Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh walk off the MCG after salvaging a draw. Picture: Michael Klein
Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh walk off the MCG after salvaging a draw. Picture: Michael Klein

Smith slams pitch after saving the day

CRICKET: A fired-up Steve Smith took aim at the MCG pitch for killing a Test match after he had come to Australia's rescue yet again.

Smith is a chance to equal Sir Donald Bradman's record of four hundreds in an Ashes series this week at the SCG, after his unyielding 102 not out on a turgid last day in Melbourne ensured Australia kept a clean sheet heading into his home Test.

The Australian captain batted for more than seven hours and faced 275 balls before he and England opposite  Joe Root agreed to call it a draw with 17 overs left.

In the end, he and a superb Mitchell Marsh (29 not out off 166) shut down England hopes of a consolation win, but when David Warner (86) and Shaun Marsh departed before lunch, the pressure to hold firm at the crease was enormous.

Smith, 28, has now faced an extraordinary 1258 balls in this series and batted for more than 30 hours for his three centuries and an average of 151.

Midway through this match a virus kept him up all night vomiting.

Making it clear he wants to knock over more records in Sydney, he expressed his frustration at the dead MCG pitch that Root also claimed was "unacceptable" for Ashes cricket.

Smith batted over seven hours to save the Aussies. Picture: Michael Klein
Smith batted over seven hours to save the Aussies. Picture: Michael Klein

Smith said it the flattest pitch on which he had played.

"It just needs to do something," he said.

"It hasn't changed over five days and I'd say if we were playing for the next couple of days it probably wouldn't change at all, either.

"It's got to find a way to have some pace and bounce, or take some spin, or do something.

"I don't mind if they're flat, as such. It just needs to have some pace and carry. This wicket just has none of that. I just don't think it's good for anyone."

David Warner was on the verge of becoming the first player in Test history to score two centuries in a Test four times, but had a rush of blood 14 runs from the milestone when Root came on with his part-time spinners.

When Shaun Marsh was well taken behind by Jonny Bairstow off the last ball before lunch, Australia looked wobbly - four down, only a handful of runs in the ascendancy and two full sessions to play.

Mitchell Marsh got the monkey off his back in Perth with a brilliant maiden hundred, but arguably his dogged unbeaten knock in Melbourne was greater proof of his huge improvement.

Mitchell Marsh avoids being run out. Picture: AP
Mitchell Marsh avoids being run out. Picture: AP
Smith and the younger Marsh put on a century and took the match out of England's reach.

Following his 141 not out off 326 balls in the third Test in Brisbane, Smith's 275-ball second innings was a textbook example of extreme concentration and batting to conditions.

He said dropping man-of-the-match Alastair Cook twice during the England opener's 244 not out was a turning point, as was Australia's failure to make 450-plus when it was in control of the match early.

But overall Smith is leading from the front like few in history ever have.

According to former England captain Michael Vaughan, Smith is undoubtedly the best in the world.

Smith has 604 runs from four Test matches and said he did not feel getting tired.

"Nope, I'm enjoying it," he said.

"It's a shame we had to call it off in the last hour. I could have had another hour out there.

"It's good fun. I'm enjoying it at the moment. I feel like I'm hitting the ball really well and hopefully I can end the series really well in Sydney.



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