76th over: Australia 199-6 (Smith 76, Cummins 13) Sorry to neglect the emails for a bit, Archer and co are demanding my full attention. Leach too (Leachooooo), who is doing his job from the Nursery End. The sun has disappeared again at Lord’s, it’s very dark and the lights are yet to come back on. Perfect conditions for Archer to have another over. And it’s Smith on strike, too… BUCKLE UP!
“Anthony Simmons should be reminded that upon writing to the Grauniad, he is on the international stage, and his words will be understood by all and sundry as FACT,” insists Sarah Bacon. “While I admit that I was known as ‘Backo’ (courtesy of Slammin’ Sam Backo, a rugby league player from days gone by), there are plenty of Aussie nicknames which don’t get that ‘O’. Warney, anyone?”
75th over: Australia 198-6 (Smith 75, Cummins 13) Phwoar! It’s on again. Archer nearly scones Cummins, the No8 having the presence of mind to know the full ball was coming next, lashing a square drive for four! He stays full with the third ball, beating the edge with a ripper! 94mph next up, in the vicinity of short leg but not quite. Two to go… he beats him! One to go… he beats him again! Incredible fast bowling. It doesn’t come much better than this. Can he go again?
74th over: Australia 194-6 (Smith 75, Cummins 9) Leach to Cummins – it’s happening, but the attention is elsewhere. Can Archer get another go at Smith to start his next set? Nup, not initially he won’t.
73rd over: Australia 193-6 (Smith 75, Cummins 8) Smith has a crack at the bumper straight away! Off the edge, it’s just over Bairstow and four! He goes again at the next one, hooking to long leg on the bounce! Smith gesticulates as he reaches the other end, frustrated that he didn’t clear the man and pop it into the crowd! NOW A REVIEW! Has Cummins got something on Archer’s next bouncer? There is an appeal, turned down by Umpire Dar but Root sends it up! Nup, it has missed by a mile. England lose their review. Cummins, still there, deflects the penultimate delivery third man giving Smith one more ball to deal with this exhilarating over… AND HE’S NEARLY CAUGHT AT SHORT LEG! Off the shoulder of the bat, the ball lands no more than six inches in front of Buttler under the lid… at 96mph! We aren’t going to see many better overs than that this summer. Incredible from Archer and a brave response from Smith.
72nd over: Australia 186-6 (Smith 70, Cummins 7) Cummins is the man facing this Leach over, but to be honest, we’re all just waiting for Archer vs Smith up the other end. Coming up right up.
“He met his match today in Archer,” says Vali Jamal of Smith. “Missed 2-3 balls per over. After each one he flays the bat and talks to the ball, never the bowler. Slow-motion replays would be entertaining to watch. Looks lockable and no wonder he does not talk to colleagues in the locker room. Never plays a classic forward stroke – but he’s still there and will no doubt score a century and then one at least in the next four tests. Writing from Kampala Uganda and now “watching” by reading here. Excellent coverage of the game and colour commentary.”
Thanks! A magnificent contest between these two, that’s for sure.
Smith to continue. The medical staff strap up his arm and he pops an arm guard on. After testing his grip on the bat, he prepares to go on…
71st over: Australia 186-6 (Smith 70, Cummins 7) SMITH HIT! Archer pings him on the arm with a short ball to finish. It’s not nice at all, a ball-on-bone sound. Smith immediately throws his bat on the ground, the team doctor straight out to take a look. Earlier in the over, he clobbered him through cover with immense timing but forget about that now, can he continue his innings? Stand by.
70th over: Australia 181-6 (Smith 66, Cummins 7) Leach replaces Broad from the Nursery End, Root mixing it up to Smith. He has a short leg this time around but not a silly point. Smith gets a good stride in to take one; Cummins beaten on the inside edge from the first he faces from the tweaker, the leg before appeal turned down.
“To Mr Baldwin,” says Anthony Simmons on the topic of nicknames. “Don’t forget the Australian habit of reducing every surname with an “O”. Johnno, Thommo, my surname is Simmons so I was always “Simmo” and when my brother started at school it became “Big” & “Little” Simmo. Leacho? Broado? Archo? Let the English have full run of the language and create something better than we convicts have done. Regards, Anthony C Simmons – Big Simmo.” Collo, here.
69th over: Australia 180-6 (Smith 65, Cummins 7) Sheeeesh! Archer is rapid at Cummins. He added some handy runs to start, off the mark with three through the gully. Getting the strike back from Smith, he repeated the dose with a more controlled guide over the cordon. A tad frustrated, Archer unfurls two nasty shorter balls, the first pulled in by Bairstow the second clearing the ‘keeper at 93mph!
More runs than Smith in London? Chris Wright has one on twitter: Jack Hobbs 1178 of the best Melbourne.
68th over: Australia 168-6 (Smith 64, Cummins 0) “Good planning,” says Nasser and he’s spot on. That catch went quickly to Buttler, too. There’s a buzz in the air again now at Lord’s, Pat Cummins the first of the bowlers. Broad to Smith, defending early then clipping expertly, through midwicket with timing to die for. Into the 60s.
Being a crucial period of play, Shane Warne spends 90 seconds talking about a television show from the 1970s. Nasser, deadpan in reply: “I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.”
WICKET! Paine c Buttler b Archer 23 (Australia 162-6)
Archer gets the breakthrough! He has the short leg in and Paine’s inside edge flies straight into the hands of Buttler. They really needed that. Australia are still 96 behind. Can England get busy?
67th over: Australia 162-6 (Smith 58)
66th over: Australia 160-5 (Smith 57, Paine 23) Paine misses out on a full toss to begin the session, a genuine loosener as Nasser says on the telly. He beats Paine with one that carries down the slope but he’s off strike next ball with one to mid-on. Smith’s turn, who has a look at one before launching into a magnificent straight drive for four! What a way to get going after lunch. His live average is 63.51.
A question from Gary Naylor as the players return to the field. “Which batsman has scored most runs in an opposition city? Bradman in London is the likeliest answer or maybe Lara in Colombo, but Smith in London must be climbing that table, with power to add today and next month at The Oval.”
Tendulkar, Laxman (or Hammond) in Sydney might be decent shouts as well? If you know the answer, ping it through.
Stuart Broad will start the session from the Nursery End, Tim Paine the man on strike. PLAY!
“Woakes has completely wrecked this,” asserts Vic Lanser. “He bowled a few peaches, but then stuck to short balls. These were pointless, no matter how good your Lord’s average is. Wicket-to-wicket yorkers work, and if one becomes a full toss Smith can nurdle round the corner where your leg slip is. Archer’s pace did worry him, although he’s met Starc etc before. His lines were good, too, if a bit impatient. Broad’s been his outstanding self. Hope gets a few more.”
I agree, Woakes was a too short. Stokes looked a chance with that extra burst of pace before lunch. I’ll say it again: patience, Joe.
“Does anyone know when Jags/Jagging entered the cricketing lexicon?” asks Jason Ali. “Together, the terms have been used three times today, and it is not unusual to read/hear them. I have, however, been following the game since the late 1960s and am pretty sure it wasn’t used then and possibly not until the turn of the millennium. Any ideas on when it first appeared and when it became accepted parlance?”
Anyone? I like using it. But then again, on the OBO there isn’t a lot of time for selecting words. It’s a stream of consciousness then submit.
“Smith reminds me of a line from Neville Cardus (paraphrased from distant memory) about Bradman,” emails Martin Gillam, “that he symphonized batting, building an innings like an opus: looking at the scoreboard was immaterial, like judging a Beethoven symphony by following the printed score.”
Wouldn’t mind a line like that when writing about his inevitable ton.
“Smith must be standing like a cricket immortal in this series by now,” adds Kingsley Pearce on this theme. “What can England do?”
They can’t lose the plot. Give Leach a proper chance and stay patient. He isn’t flawless today; this isn’t that type of innings.
“Surely Leach’s nickname should be ‘Archie’?” suggests Jonathan McKinley. I’ll open it up. Let’s find Jack a nickname before I finish.
Smooth. “May I make a late nomination in the above category for Alan Mullally,” writes Mark Slater, “who all too briefly shone for England just before the Millenium. Like all left arm seamers bowling over the wicket to right handed batsmen he needed to propel the ball further to pitch on the same length as a righty and thus had a very clean and economical action. I believe he tended to be quicker than most perceived him to be, as he often got more swing on the ball after pitching than before.”
Very nice. We spent a lot of time talking about Alan Mullally on a podcast doco we released earlier this year on World Cup ‘99. Enjoy.
“Unless I missed it I’m a little surprised that David Gower hasn’t been mentioned,” adds Kevin Sims. “The epitome of a smooth batsman surely? Never has nicking it behind been so graceful.”
Behind the mic, too. Let’s enjoy him while still on the box this series.
“We’re and hour ahead and we’ll into ‘lunch’ break with 32oC temperatures in shade so it’s fairly liquid,” brags Brian Baldwin. “Can we not come up with a new format for player nicknames that simply doesn’t add a ‘y’ to the surname. Butler’s call to ‘Leachy’ is particularly boring. What’s wrong with ‘bloodsucker’, insofar as he may drain some of Australia’s venom/spirit.”
Especially given they’ve been mates since childhood! Come on, Jos.
LUNCH! Australia 155-5
65th over: Australia 155-5 (Smith 53, Paine 22) Stokes does have a short leg in for this final over before lunch but Paine isn’t tempted to take on the bouncer, three men back for it on the rope at fine leg, deep backward square and a conventional deep square. He does help a single in that direction without too much trouble, giving Smith the task of finishing the session off. He does so, albeit with the final delivery squaring him up nicely, but on the bounce to gully.
That’s lunch! One wicket for England, that of Matthew Wade (6) who edged an excellent Broad delivery from around the wicket. But these two have added 53 runs since, making 75 runs from the session. The visitors are still 103 runs behind but England really need to finish this first innings off in a hurry if they are any chance of forcing a result. With Smith still there, and beyond 50? No easy task.
I’ll be back in about 20 minutes for some lunch time chat. Drop me a line to join the conversation or ping me a tweet if you’d prefer.
64th over: Australia 154-5 (Smith 53, Paine 21) Smith got that wallop out of his system against Leach in the previous over to lay a bit of a marker, but he won’t be taking any risks with lunch so close. He defends all six accurate deliveries off the front foot here with a nice dead bat. More close catchers in there, I say. Ah well.
63rd over: Australia 154-5 (Smith 53, Paine 21) Paine has settled nicely in the half hour before lunch. Stokes nearly sorts him out with a ball that jags away but he plays it with soft hands. Good batting.
Smith to 50!
62nd over: Australia 152-5 (Smith 52, Paine 20) Smith at his ostentatious best, dancing down at Leach to take him over mid-on for a one-bounce four. After making contact, he spins the better part of 360 degree because, well, he’s Steve Smith. That’s his 50 as well, coming from 107 deliveries with six fours. The shot also raises the half-century stand between the pair and Australia’s 150. He shows Leach plenty of respect for the rest of the over, the spinner doing as he must as we approach an interval: giving it plenty of flight. Good.
“If you do put down your baby’s name on the waiting list (congratulations by the way!), you’re just solidifying his/her fate of growing up to become a football fan instead,” says Abhijato Sensarma. Suspect they’ll be both; can’t imagine any other outcome.
Martin Gillam has a smoothness suggestion before lunch too: “One idiosyncratic category would be smoothness of hitting – has anyone hit more effortless, sweetly timed sixes than your (near) namesake, Adam Gilchrist?” No complaints here. Truly changed the game.
Speaking of the footy/cricket link…
61st over: Australia 148-5 (Smith 48, Paine 20) So good from Smith, this time staying at home rather than jumping over the stumps; he knew that’s where and when Stokes’ full ball was coming. Don’t doubt his telepathic skills. In turn, he’s able to hammer it down the ground for four. Paine misses a pull shot later in the over, the third time this morning, and there is appeal as it has kept a lot lower than he thought. It’s turned down and there’s no review. Variable bounce?
“Smooth batsmen (that sounded weird in my head),” writes Avitaj Mitra. “I nominate Damien Martyn. Made it seem so effortless all the time. Lazy elegance is the term, I believe.”
Yep. Easy on the eye. And, for a while there in 2016, one of only 40-odd people in the world that Donald Trump followed on Twitter. No kidding. My dear colleague Charlie Reynolds wrote the yarn.
60th over: Australia 141-5 (Smith 41, Paine 20) Bad from Broad, Smith getting off strike – with three runs – when the big quick lets a ball through his legs at backward point. It’ll be doubly frustrating for Root as the delivery before it did beat Smith’s inside edge. That’s the part of the bat the spinner locates when Paine is at the business end but there are no catchers in close. There really should be a couple of those for Leach early in this spell. Wickets matter, not runs, in this rain-reduced game. Give the bloke every opportunity. Lovely over.
59th over: Australia 138-5 (Smith 38, Paine 20) I was right about it being Archer’s last over for now – thanks for listening, Joe. Stokes is back for a pre-lunch blast. I don’t mind that. There should be a bit of reverse there for him. Oooh, he does get one to move back at Smith. Of course, he is good enough to whip it away for two but that is worth having another pop at when Paine is on strike. The bumper follows then the one that spits at Smith’s gloves. He gets that bottom hand right off the blade, expertly. “Nothing worries him,” says Sangakkara on telly. Stokes has a stare. Short of a length again to finish, Smith jumps over to grab one and keep the strike. So, Leach will get a chance at Smith for the first time. An important period.
58th over: Australia 135-5 (Smith 35, Paine 20) “Go on Leachy,” says YJB from behind the stumps. “Wobble a few down there!” Yep, it’s SPIN for the first time in this innings, replacing Woakes with 28 minutes remaining in the session. Paine plays each ball watchfully.
“To spare Jamie H’s wife’s woes in learning a new cricketing-related lingo (51st over), tell him radio 4 LW reaches far far far into France, and his car should pick it up,” notes Luke Brown, helpfully! “I’ve tested it down to beyond the Burgundy Hills (four hours south of Paris, is the max, I’d say), on the way to the Alps. Fair wind etc.
However, i myself am stranded (LW-wise) in Hungary, so keep the OBO coming to combat the heavy-food-and-scorching-sun afternoon-lethargy.”
Great to have your company. Stick with us all day long.
“PS – I told my infant son about the vital need for Steve Smith to be got out. He looked into my eyes, yawned, and fell asleep. I see a future for him in the pavilion.”
Get him on that waiting list, now! We’re having a baby in February (I don’t think I told you guys that? Exciting, innit?!) and the first thing I’m doing when they are born: both MCC lists and Adelaide Oval.
57th over: Australia 135-5 (Smith 35, Paine 20) The last over of Archer’s morning, perhaps? Nothing wrong with it, leaping one back at Paine’s thigh pad along the way, but both the captain then Smith are able to keep him out. The best delivery is, once again, saved for last: a full off-cutter that Smith gets down on in the nick of time.
56th over: Australia 134-5 (Smith 35, Paine 20) Useful runs, aren’t they all? Buzzzzers when Stokes takes a ping at the non-strikers’ stumps, wide enough that Paine gets a couple of bonus runs. Building in confidence, the captain was also able to put away a rare poor ball from Woakes, slamming it through cover off the back foot.
“Why is Jack Leach in the team?” asks Aditya Kohli. I suspect he is going to be into the attack very soon. Has a major role against Smith.
Love this. Mel Jones – one of the truly great cricket people. After making her maiden Ashes ton in 1998, she did the clinic circuit when returning home. Remember well her schooling us on her vicious cut shot. In short: to hell with rolling your wrists when making contact, hit down on the ball to begin and it doesn’t matter.
55th over: Australia 127-5 (Smith 35, Paine 13) Paine is battling but that’s what is required of him here. As Justin Langer said before the Test, they want to get bulk overs into Archer and see how effective he might be when tired. In order to do that, players like Paine need to soak up overs like this. There’s a ripper to finish – isn’t there always when Archer is involved? – leaping up at his handle, the captain nursing it down to the gully on the bounce. Well played.
“Why aren’t England bowling round the wicket to Smith, aiming yorkers at leg stump with a 3-6 field?” asks Brian Withington. “It might not get him out but surely it has to disrupt his perennial method of moving across to off?”
I think it has to do with the fact that they tried a lot of unorthodox plans last week and turned too them far too early in Smith’s innings, especially the second time around. Root said before this Test that they were going to go at him as long as they could with conventional measures. It feels like it has been working relatively well so far?
54th over: Australia 126-5 (Smith 35, Paine 12) Woakes is fuller to Paine, jagging back at him this time to find the inside edge! Close. And he does it again to finish! He’s the man most likely right now.
“I‘ll see your Keith Arthurton and raise you a Carl Hooper,” says Hary Naylor. “Nobody hit sixes more smoothly than Super Hoops.”
The answer to a top quiz question as well. I’ll get this wrong, but it goes something like… Hooper is the only man (other than Kallis?) to have played 100 Tests, 100 ODIs, taken 100 catches in both formats, snagged 100 wickets in both formats. Anyway, it’s a good’un when asked properly. And yes, boy, could he give the ball a wallop.
53th over: Australia 121-5 (Smith 34, Paine 8) Smith edges Archer’s… slower ball? 76mph flashes up after the ball trickes into the cordon, deflected there with soft enough hands. He can put his bat away for the middle portion of the over, leaving and swaying, but misses a beauty to finish, so close to cutting him in half, jagging past his inside edge. Two busy overs since the drinks break.
52nd over: Australia 121-5 (Smith 34, Paine 8) Woakes beats Smith with a good’un. That’s why he takes so many wickets on this ground – gorgrous shape. Ooh, he goes the other way to Paine – a big shout for leg before… turned down. No review; going over the top. He the beats Paine with another outswinger to finish the excellent set.
“To broaden the smoothness debate from bowling to batting: a mate of mine once found himself bowling to Keith Arthurton in a charity match,” recalls Boris Starling. “His first ball was on a length outside off. Arthurton nonchalantly leaned into the cover drive and purred the single word ‘smoooothness’ as the ball sped to the boundary.”
Oh yes, a name from my childhood there. Yes, Australian fans feared all the usual suspects in that West Indian line-up but Arthurton was as classy as any of them at his 1992-93 peak.
51st over: Australia 120-5 (Smith 33, Paine 8) Archer is swung around to the pavilion end, as he was yesterday for that fierce spell at Bancroft. He doesn’t take long to make the ball talk, four byes added when a ball goes down the slope and deviates too far from Bairstow to glove. For the second time since his arrival, Paine tries to pull the big quick but ends up in a tangle. Might put that shot away for now, skip. Smith pushes a single to keep the strike. DRINKS! If only we had two days after this and not one, this Test would be perfectly positioned. But there’s still enough time – just.
“Long time listener, first time caller.” We love those, Jamie Hudson. Welcome. “Long drive home today through France. Enjoying the coverage. Long suffering wife reading out updates while I drive (also typing this). She describes it as similar to trying to read aloud in an unfamiliar foreign language- difficult to know where to put the emphasis when you don’t know what the sentences mean!”
50th over: Australia 114-5 (Smith 32, Paine 7) The Lord’s Specialist, Chris Woakes, on to replace Archer from his preferred Nursery End. He picked up Khawaja yesterday at an important time, the second wicket in the space of three balls. Smith missed out on a flick through the onside, much to his frustration. He does get one to mid-on, Paine then glancing a single before the former captain finishes with two behind point along the carpet. He’s into the 30s and has faced 75 balls. His average when reaching 50 deliveries in the middle is 100-plus, I’m sorry to report to those desperate to see his back.
49th over: Australia 110-5 (Smith 29, Paine 6) The sun is back. It’s that kind of morning; light and shade. Broad hoops an inswinging yorker at Smith, nearly castling him. He gets his bat down at the last possible moment. So cose. Paine then gets a couple through point from another delivery aimed in towards the stumps. Great spell, this.
48th over: Australia 107-5 (Smith 28, Paine 4) Smith pushes Archer to mid-on to begin, putting Paine in the firing line for the first time at this end. The skipper tries to pull but isn’t quick enough, edging into his pad – where is the short leg? Not there. But he keeps his cool, deflecting the next with soft hands well behind point for four to get off the mark. Australia are still 151 behind, it is worth remembering.
47th over: Australia 102-5 (Smith 27, Paine 0) Broad at the fresh man Paine, the captain having to defend on the line of his off stump four times before he’s given the chance to shoulder arms. Full and straight, Broad isn’t mucking around. Three maidens on the trot.
46th over: Australia 102-5 (Smith 27, Paine 0) It is dark again at Lord’s, the lights on full with Archer starting his fresh set. As I noted before, credit his way as well for Wade’s wicket, hitting him twice in his two previous overs. At Smith this time, he goes well beyond his outside edge playing off the back foot. Dangerous areas. Smith then has a pop at one that he would normally leave well alone, the bowler again winning the mini-battle. This is good stuff. The bouncer to finish is followed by Smith’s eyes all the way into Bairstow’s gloves, prompting more giggles. Find a telly, this is great entertainment.
45th over: Australia 102-5 (Smith 27, Paine 0) Broad has been rewarded for bowling such a full length – as Nasser Hussain notes on telly, fuller than at any stage in his career. As someone clever noted in the press box last week, professional athletes usually have to improve quite a lot at Broad’s age to stay relevant and that’s precisely what he’s done ahead of this summer. Paine is the new man, getting a nasty one to begin that jumps at his handle, the captain ripping his hand off the bat. He hates those, given the number of finger operations he’s required. Wicket maiden.
WICKET! Wade c Burns b Broad 6 (Australia 102-5)
Fantastic bowling! Broad brings Wade forward from around the wicket, tailing away from the left-hander. He finds the edge, just carrying to Burns at third slip. An excellent low catch. Wade, who looked so good before Archer roughed him up, is on his way.
44th over: Australia 102-4 (Smith 27, Wade 6) Ouch, Archer hits Wade again this time – this time on the shoulder. Smith dealt with him easily enough before taking one to mid-on, watching carefully.
43rd over: Australia 100-4 (Smith 26, Wade 6) Smith is making a habit of scoring behind square early in the over, helping Broad in that direction for Australia’s 100th run. Warm applause from the packed Lord’s crowd – they love their Saturdays at HQ. Wade is forced to use his bat in defence until the final ball, Broad from around the wicket hooping back a long way; not far from that off-stump with the No6 shouldering arms. Top notch cricket so far.
“Sat in Jakarta airport after a combined 16 hours in transit,” Harry Coleman reports to me on twitter. “Can’t speak to much really but how about that The Shape of Water, hey? My vote for smoothest action goes to the big charming fish man.”
Slept in the bath, you say, Smithy? Norwegian Wood, then.
42nd over: Australia 99-4 (Smith 25, Wade 6) Archer it is, replacing Stokes after just a couple of overs. He’s full to Smith immediately, clipping one to fine leg. Wade has to be right on it, under an accurate bumper then directing into his body at 90mph. He’s good enough to keep him out. Ooh, the last ball is a nasty one, hitting Wade on the fingers. He takes his glove off between overs to give his hand a shake. He hasn’t called for the medical staff, so that’s a good sign.
41st over: Australia 98-4 (Smith 24, Wade 6) Broad and Smith are both in the game here; a fantastic contest emerging early on this fourth day. To begin, the Australian hammers him through cover off the back foot for the second time so far – there wasn’t much wrong with that ball, either. The England attack-leader bounces back with the second delivery of the morning that’s good enough to beat Smith. A beauty, seaming up the slope. When Wade gets his turn, he drives a full delivery with lovely timing, beating mid-off. With it, the Tasmanian reaches 1000 Test Match runs. Nine off the over.
“If Jardine were in charge he would place two very short legs in place (perhaps Stokes and Woakes) and thereby prevent Smith doing his waddle out to short leg,” suggests Will Buckley. “Get in his head, muck up his OCD routine and watch his mind unravel.”