Australia captain Michael Clarke carried on from where he left off as the tourists maintained their grip on the third Ashes Test against England at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, yesterday.
At lunch on the second day Australia were 392-5, with Clarke 168 not out — his highest Test score against England — in a match the tourists, 2-0 down with three to play, have to win to have any chance of regaining the Ashes.
Brad Haddin, dropped on 10, was unbeaten on 18.
England were indebted to off-spinner Graeme Swann, who took two wickets in the session on his way to innings figures of four for 103 in 31 overs, for ensuring Australia did not have things all their own way.
Australia resumed well-placed on 303-3 with Clarke 125 not out after scoring the tourists’ first century of the series and Steven Smith 70 not out after Thursday witnessed yet more Decision Review System controversy in the Ashes campaign.
On another sunny day and on a good pitch, Smith was quickly into his stride with a stylish cover drive for four off James Anderson, still to take a wicket the match on his Lancashire home ground.
Clarke, on 136, drove uppishly, but powerfully off Tim Bresnan, only for Swann, very close in at short extra-cover, to parry the fast-traveling chance above his head.
A single then saw Clarke surpass his previous highest Test score against England of 136 at Lord’s in London in 2009.
However, a stand eventually worth 214 ended when Smith, eyeing a maiden Test century, top-edged a slog off Swann’s sixth ball yesterday and holed out on 89 to Jonny Bairstow at midwicket, leaving Australia on 343-4.
The 24-year-old Smith, playing his 10th Test, batted nearly five hours and faced 196 balls with eight fours.
His departure brought in left-hander David Warner, booed by large sections of the capacity crowd having missed the first two Tests of this series after being banned for punching England’s Joe Root in a Birmingham bar in June, but there was applause when Clarke struck three fours in as many balls off Bresnan.
The first, a late cut through backward-point, saw the star batsman go to 150 in 261 balls with 21 boundaries. The next was commandingly driven on the up back past the bowler and through mid-on, before Clarke drove Bresnan through extra-cover.
Warner exited for 5 when an edge off Swann deflected via wicketkeeper Matt Prior’s thigh to Jonathan Trott at slip.
Despite the clear edge, Warner reviewed the decision, but, with replays leaving no room for doubt, he walked off to yet more jeers.
Swann, the leading wicket-taker in the series with 17, had now taken two for five in 11 balls.
Haddin was then reprieved when he under-edged a pull off Anderson, only for opposing wicketkeeper Prior, changing direction, to drop the left-handed chance.