Men’s Ashes Second Test Report Card, Day Two
Featuring Australia's best batter and the mouth of Marnus
Australia’s Best Batter
Despite losing Alex Carey early on the second day (possibly carried away to a hidden location by wicket-keeping counterpart, Jonny Bairstow), Steve Smith continued to purr along to his century, aided by Ben Stokes’ willingness to give him a single and attack the other end. (The purring, by the way, is yet another weird idiosyncrasy for Smith to add to his repertoire.)
Alongside his captain Pat Cummins, Smith brought up his 32nd Test century, matching Steve Waugh in approximately several hundred fewer innings. He now has just Ricky Ponting (41 Test centuries) as the only Australian batter ahead of him.
I'm not sure I'll ever fully understand Smith's transition from ‘youngster selected to crack jokes in the dressing room’ to ‘all-time batting great who embodies humourless destruction.’ To be frank, it’s very weird.
Still, if he catches Ponting, that's going to be one heck of a final few years of his career.
At 7/393, though, Smith fell into one of Bazball’s more subtle traps. In the first Test, Ben Stokes had declared on 8/393, perhaps setting in Steve Smith’s mind the idea that this was the new done thing. As we all know by now, Bazball has changed the game so much forever and is saving Test cricket and is the only proper way to play the sport these days. So fair enough for Smith to assume if he got himself out, to make the score 8/393, Cummins would have no choice but to declare.
Cummins, however, is a stubborn traditionalist, who cares not one iota for the future of Test cricket and its Bazballian saviours. As far as he was concerned, the loss of Smith simply brought Nathan Lyon to the crease and the first Test also taught us that these are Australia’s two best batters.
(You think I’m joking, and maybe I am a bit about Lyon. But Cummins? He’s currently averaging 104 in this series.)
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