The Ashes have been regained rightfully by Australia after they breezed past England in the third Test at the WACA in Perth by an innings and 41 runs. In the end it has been a satisfying 3-0 lead in the five-match series and come the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), the Aussies will be eyeing another scalp.
The 3rd Test was filled with a lot of drama, passion and some great performances, but the hosts ticked the right boxes from Day 2 onward and sealed the urn in their favour. Led by captain fabulous Steve Smith, the in-form Aussies notched up some great individual performances in different times of the game to hurt Joe Root’s side. After taking a lead of 259 runs, Australia bowled England out for a paltry 218 in their 2nd innings and claim the bragging rights.
England lost the momentum despite being on top in Day 1 after being on 305/4 to end with just 403 on the board in the 1st innings and from there on it was all Australia. The resurgent Aussies had serious pace on offer and backed with some monumental batting show led by double centurion Smith. Former players of both sides lauded the show by the hosts as they excelled in all facets of the game.
Here are the five things we learned from the impeccable victory at the WACA by Australia.
Steve Smith in a world of his own: The Australian skipper has brought in comparisons with the legendary cricketer of all time, Sir Donald Bradman after smashing a scintillating 239 in the 1st innings. Smith notched up his 22nd Test ton and a 2nd double hundred in a glittering affair. The No. 1 Test batsman never gave anything away and went on to build a 301-run partnership with Mitchell Marsh as he kept rotating the strike and played in a familiar tempo throughout. After a fighting hundred in the first Test at the Gabba where the conditions were different, Smith saw his way through to mark his fastest ever ton in the longest format of the game..
Mitchell Marsh makes a dream return: The all-rounder made every penny count after he came on to bat and forged the match-winning partnership with Smith. Marsh had last played in March 2017 against India and to come in right away and score 184 runs is a kind of hero’s return. The positive display with the bat some great aggressive shots as he kept the run-rate on the upwards and was a perfect partner for his skipper. His shots weren’t just effortless, but a series of wise choices. His innings will give Australian selectors a sense of pride after selecting him to play the WACA Test.
Mitchell Starc rocks with ‘Ball of the century’: He has already been the hero with the ball and has already picked 19 wickets so far as he looks to emulate Mitchell Johnson’s heroics of 37 scalps in the 2013-14 Ashes. The left-arm pacer managed just a solitary wicket in the 2nd innings but that turned out to be a special one. Fans and pundits are already terming the delivery to get James Vince out as ‘Ball of the Century’, somewhat in debating circumstances to overshadow Shane Warner’s 1993 heroics. Starc’s delivery saw the ball getting deflected at an angle of 3.9 degrees after pitching to knock the off-stump out of the ground.
Dawid Malan digs deep, Stuart Broad falters: The middle-order batsman backed up his first innings hundred with a gutsy half century in the second dig. Malan showed plenty of grit to defy the wet patches and cracks on the 5th day of the WACA deck, scoring 54. In the 1st innings he smashed a superb 140 runs as he looked to provide a fight against top class opposition pace bowling. Meanwhile, veteran pacer Stuart Broad had a terrible outing as his struggles continue to blossom. Broad’s pace has dropped by miles and he averages 73.60 with just five wickets against Australia since his superb 8/15 at Trent Bridge in 2015. 35 overs. Broad had just three maidens to his name and no wickets to show for 142 runs.
Wet patches on 5th day pitch brings controversy: There was a serious mishap even before play went underway after the covers came out to show several wet patches on the pitch. The ground staff in Perth was criticised for failing to protect the deck and there was fear that there would be no play, but they rallied on to dry the pitch, using leaf blowers on the wet patches. Smith criticised the unwanted marring of the game as Root was seen shaking his head after speaking to the umpires in the start of the day, before crediting the staff to make it suitable with all the drying methods used.