Sunday 25 February 2018 / 03:06 AM


Brilliant captain Steve Smith played a trademark anchor role while the maligned Shaun Marsh took an impressive first step towards winning back public favour as Australia fought back in the last session on Day 2 of the Ashes opener.

Replying to England’s all-out total of 302, Australia reached 4/165 at stumps – but only after an unbroken 79-run stand from Smith and Marsh.

The tourists resumed on 4/196, and six wickets fell for 106 runs in a hectic first session at the Gabba.

Dawid Malan (56) and Moeen Ali (38), the not-out batsmen on Thursday, fell in quick succession after adding 50 runs to the overnight score but the tail gave a decent wag courtesy of contributions from Stuart Broad (20) and Jake Ball (14).

Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc both finished with three wickets, while Nathan Lyon had Ali and Chris Woakes in consecutive overs as he hauled in 2/78 off 36 overs.

After a confident start, debutant opener Cameron Bancroft fell to Broad for 5, nicking to the keeper in the fourth over of Australia’s innings.

Usman Khawaja (11) was trapped lbw by Ali in the 11th over, while David Warner (26) and Peter Handscomb (14) failed to capitalise on starts as they were foiled by Ball and James Anderson respectively to leave the hosts delicately placed at 4/76.

But showing outstanding composure and concentration – along with the occasional piece of sparkling stroke-play – Smith (64 not out off 148 balls) and Marsh (44 not out off 122) survived and thrived for 37 overs, with the duo no doubt hungry to face up to the England attack again on Saturday morning.

Marsh’s riposte to the army of critics of his recall was certainly timely, with injury standby Glenn Maxwell blasting a double-century for Victoria at North Sydney Oval.

The nod for the most content pair at the Gabba, however, surely goes to the young couple that got engaged on the pool deck. Congratulations!

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Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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