Ben Stokes was troubled by a shoulder injury as Steve Smith and Tim Paine heaped further pain on abysmal England to put Australia in command at tea on day two of the fourth Ashes Test.
The tourists will start the final session on 369-5 with the astonishing Smith unbeaten on 173 – his third century and biggest score of the series so far – and Paine 58 not out in a stand of 145, but it could have been a very different story at Old Trafford on Thursday.
Smith was dropped by Jofra Archer on 65 and had a huge reprieve when he edged Jack Leach to Stokes at first slip with 118 to his name, replays showing the spinner had overstepped.
Paine was also given two lives and made England suffer by scoring his first half-century of the series as the wheels came off for Joe Root’s side.
A poor session.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) September 5, 2019
Headingley hero Stokes spent a short time off the field in an extended afternoon session due to rain on day one. While he did return, England were reeling after levelling the series in such dramatic fashion in Leeds.
Archer put Smith down in the second over of the day after Australia resumed on 170-3, but Stuart Broad – the pick of the bowlers with 3-74 – got the breakthrough by trapping Travis Head leg before.
Matthew Wade had a rush of blood and was caught by Root off Leach, yet the busy Smith reached three figures yet again before lunch after playing with increasing fluency following a somewhat shaky start.
England lost the plot following lunch, Jason Roy dropping Paine off Archer on nine at second slip before Smith was given another let-off when he nicked to Stokes, Leach paying the price for a no-ball.
Paine was spilled again, this by Sam Curran – on for Stokes, one short of a half-century and he was still there with the magnificent Smith at tea, the pair putting Australia in a great position.