Steve Smith scored a sparkling century and put on 128 for the sixth wicket with Brad Haddin to rescue Australia and push the hosts to a respectable 326 all out on the first day of the fifth Ashes Test against England on Friday.
England’s nemesis Mitchell Johnson drove home the advantage in the final half hour by removing Michael Carberry for a duck to leave captain Alastair Cook (seven) and nightwatchman James Anderson (one) at the crease at eight for one at stumps. Smith was the final Australian wicket to fall for 115 and while his second century of the series put a thick layer of gloss on the day for the hosts, there was no doubt the momentum shifted with wicketkeeper Haddin’s 90-ball 75.
Looking to seal a 5-0 series sweep, Australia were well and truly on the ropes at 97 for five after England struck twice in the 15 minutes before lunch and then dismissed George Bailey for one within 10 minutes of the resumption.
Haddin, as he has in all four previous Tests when his team were in similarly precarious positions, came out oozing positivity and took the game to the bowlers with a barrage of aggressive strokes.
“Brad was great out there,” Smith told reporters. “He was great to bat with. I sort of took a back seat and just watched him go. The way he played his shots today, it was brilliant to form a partnership with him and get us in the position we are now.”
England contributed to their own misery by bowling short to a batsman who was clearly happy to pull and hook to the boundary all day with Ben Stokes (6-99) suffering particular punishment.