54th over: Australia 126-5 (Smith 35, Paine 12) Woakes is fuller to Paine, jagging back at him this time to find the inside edge! Close. And he does it again to finish! He’s the man most likely right now.
“I‘ll see your Keith Arthurton and raise you a Carl Hooper,” says Hary Naylor. “Nobody hit sixes more smoothly than Super Hoops.”
The answer to a top quiz question as well. I’ll get this wrong, but it goes something like… Hooper is the only man (other than Kallis?) to have played 100 Tests, 100 ODIs, taken 100 catches in both formats, snagged 100 wickets in both formats. Anyway, it’s a good’un when asked properly. And yes, boy, could he give the ball a wallop.
53th over: Australia 121-5 (Smith 34, Paine 8) Smith edges Archer’s… slower ball? 76mph flashes up after the ball trickes into the cordon, deflected there with soft enough hands. He can put his bat away for the middle portion of the over, leaving and swaying, but misses a beauty to finish, so close to cutting him in half, jagging past his inside edge. Two busy overs since the drinks break.
52nd over: Australia 121-5 (Smith 34, Paine 8) Woakes beats Smith with a good’un. That’s why he takes so many wickets on this ground – gorgrous shape. Ooh, he goes the other way to Paine – a big shout for leg before… turned down. No review; going over the top. He the beats Paine with another outswinger to finish the excellent set.
“To broaden the smoothness debate from bowling to batting: a mate of mine once found himself bowling to Keith Arthurton in a charity match,” recalls Boris Starling. “His first ball was on a length outside off. Arthurton nonchalantly leaned into the cover drive and purred the single word ‘smoooothness’ as the ball sped to the boundary.”
Oh yes, a name from my childhood there. Yes, Australian fans feared all the usual suspects in that West Indian line-up but Arthurton was as classy as any of them at his 1992-93 peak.
51st over: Australia 120-5 (Smith 33, Paine 8) Archer is swung around to the pavilion end, as he was yesterday for that fierce spell at Bancroft. He doesn’t take long to make the ball talk, four byes added when a ball goes down the slope and deviates too far from Bairstow to glove. For the second time since his arrival, Paine tries to pull the big quick but ends up in a tangle. Might put that shot away for now, skip. Smith pushes a single to keep the strike. DRINKS! If only we had two days after this and not one, this Test would be perfectly positioned. But there’s still enough time – just.
“Long time listener, first time caller.” We love those, Jamie Hudson. Welcome. “Long drive home today through France. Enjoying the coverage. Long suffering wife reading out updates while I drive (also typing this). She describes it as similar to trying to read aloud in an unfamiliar foreign language- difficult to know where to put the emphasis when you don’t know what the sentences mean!”
50th over: Australia 114-5 (Smith 32, Paine 7) The Lord’s Specialist, Chris Woakes, on to replace Archer from his preferred Nursery End. He picked up Khawaja yesterday at an important time, the second wicket in the space of three balls. Smith missed out on a flick through the onside, much to his frustration. He does get one to mid-on, Paine then glancing a single before the former captain finishes with two behind point along the carpet. He’s into the 30s and has faced 75 balls. His average when reaching 50 deliveries in the middle is 100-plus, I’m sorry to report to those desperate to see his back.
49th over: Australia 110-5 (Smith 29, Paine 6) The sun is back. It’s that kind of morning; light and shade. Broad hoops an inswinging yorker at Smith, nearly castling him. He gets his bat down at the last possible moment. So cose. Paine then gets a couple through point from another delivery aimed in towards the stumps. Great spell, this.
48th over: Australia 107-5 (Smith 28, Paine 4) Smith pushes Archer to mid-on to begin, putting Paine in the firing line for the first time at this end. The skipper tries to pull but isn’t quick enough, edging into his pad – where is the short leg? Not there. But he keeps his cool, deflecting the next with soft hands well behind point for four to get off the mark. Australia are still 151 behind, it is worth remembering.
47th over: Australia 102-5 (Smith 27, Paine 0) Broad at the fresh man Paine, the captain having to defend on the line of his off stump four times before he’s given the chance to shoulder arms. Full and straight, Broad isn’t mucking around. Three maidens on the trot.
46th over: Australia 102-5 (Smith 27, Paine 0) It is dark again at Lord’s, the lights on full with Archer starting his fresh set. As I noted before, credit his way as well for Wade’s wicket, hitting him twice in his two previous overs. At Smith this time, he goes well beyond his outside edge playing off the back foot. Dangerous areas. Smith then has a pop at one that he would normally leave well alone, the bowler again winning the mini-battle. This is good stuff. The bouncer to finish is followed by Smith’s eyes all the way into Bairstow’s gloves, prompting more giggles. Find a telly, this is great entertainment.
45th over: Australia 102-5 (Smith 27, Paine 0) Broad has been rewarded for bowling such a full length – as Nasser Hussain notes on telly, fuller than at any stage in his career. As someone clever noted in the press box last week, professional athletes usually have to improve quite a lot at Broad’s age to stay relevant and that’s precisely what he’s done ahead of this summer. Paine is the new man, getting a nasty one to begin that jumps at his handle, the captain ripping his hand off the bat. He hates those, given the number of finger operations he’s required. Wicket maiden.
WICKET! Wade c Burns b Broad 6 (Australia 102-5)
Fantastic bowling! Broad brings Wade forward from around the wicket, tailing away from the left-hander. He finds the edge, just carrying to Burns at third slip. An excellent low catch. Wade, who looked so good before Archer roughed him up, is on his way.
44th over: Australia 102-4 (Smith 27, Wade 6) Ouch, Archer hits Wade again this time – this time on the shoulder. Smith dealt with him easily enough before taking one to mid-on, watching carefully.
43rd over: Australia 100-4 (Smith 26, Wade 6) Smith is making a habit of scoring behind square early in the over, helping Broad in that direction for Australia’s 100th run. Warm applause from the packed Lord’s crowd – they love their Saturdays at HQ. Wade is forced to use his bat in defence until the final ball, Broad from around the wicket hooping back a long way; not far from that off-stump with the No6 shouldering arms. Top notch cricket so far.
“Sat in Jakarta airport after a combined 16 hours in transit,” Harry Coleman reports to me on twitter. “Can’t speak to much really but how about that The Shape of Water, hey? My vote for smoothest action goes to the big charming fish man.”
Slept in the bath, you say, Smithy? Norwegian Wood, then.
42nd over: Australia 99-4 (Smith 25, Wade 6) Archer it is, replacing Stokes after just a couple of overs. He’s full to Smith immediately, clipping one to fine leg. Wade has to be right on it, under an accurate bumper then directing into his body at 90mph. He’s good enough to keep him out. Ooh, the last ball is a nasty one, hitting Wade on the fingers. He takes his glove off between overs to give his hand a shake. He hasn’t called for the medical staff, so that’s a good sign.
41st over: Australia 98-4 (Smith 24, Wade 6) Broad and Smith are both in the game here; a fantastic contest emerging early on this fourth day. To begin, the Australian hammers him through cover off the back foot for the second time so far – there wasn’t much wrong with that ball, either. The England attack-leader bounces back with the second delivery of the morning that’s good enough to beat Smith. A beauty, seaming up the slope. When Wade gets his turn, he drives a full delivery with lovely timing, beating mid-off. With it, the Tasmanian reaches 1000 Test Match runs. Nine off the over.
“If Jardine were in charge he would place two very short legs in place (perhaps Stokes and Woakes) and thereby prevent Smith doing his waddle out to short leg,” suggests Will Buckley. “Get in his head, muck up his OCD routine and watch his mind unravel.”
40th over: Australia 89-4 (Smith 19, Wade 2) Probing over from Stokes, well watched initially by Wade who is later able to dig out a yorker down for one. Smith is happy enough jumping across his woodwork for another single to finish, tucking to fine leg.
“Morning Adam.” G’day, Kim Thonger. “Sorry to start the day in disagreement but on the question of smoothness, everyone else is wrong. Tom Cartwright had by far the smoothest action and only missed out on more Test cricket because of moronic selection policy. Not a recent development obvs.”
How about Jofra bowling 94mph bumpers yesterday? Doesn’t the radar slow most bowlers down when they dig in short? More! More!
39th over: Australia 87-4 (Smith 18, Wade 1) Smith beaten! Broad goes past his blade with his first ball of the morning – dare I say, a nervous prod? Sure enough, the former captain is furious at himself and shifts into light-sabre mode as the sun comes out from behind the clouds. What a glorious sight. Just on Smith’s odd habits when leaving the ball, he doesn’t do it all the time. As he’s explained when I’ve asked him about it before, this is a clue that he’s trying to shift into his highest level of concentration. With a bit of width, he pushes a boundary with ease through point off the back foot; so much time, lovely batting. He then defends the final ball and kicks his legs up like he’s setting up to take a diving catch – the crowd laugh as one. “Surplus energy,” says Ian Botham. Something like that.
38th over: Australia 82-4 (Smith 14, Wade 1) Ahh, that’s right: Ben Stokes had five balls remaining when the rain arrived two minutes before the lunch break yesterday. The first of those is to Wade, who clips one to get off the mark from the 24th ball he has faced. The Tasmanian did very nicely in tough conditions yesterday, reinforcing that his technique is a lot tighter than during his previous stints as a Test player. Smith’s turn and Stokes gets one to spit off a length, the Aussie master forced to rip his bottom hand off the blade. It doesn’t bother him too much though, getting his first run of the day from the next delivery, tucked neatly behind square. Good morning to you all!
Thanks, JP! The players are on the field, Ben Stokes to begin from in front of my position at the Nursery End. Wade is the man on strike. We have 196 overs remaining in this Test Match. Bring it on. PLAY!
Right, the players are making their way out to the middle so it’s time for me to stand aside and let Collo have an uninterrupted view of the middle. Thanks for having me, see you again tomorrow.
We’re now just five minutes from the resumption of play. That means you should start sending your emails and tweets Adam Collins’s way because I will soon be off to put my feet up.
Just ten minutes or so until play resumes. Can England dismiss Smith cheaply and send a shockwave through the Australian dressing room?
Raymond Reardon (not that one), has turned up with the lols. “Smith, Warner and Bancroft would be the three smoothest woodworkers for using a fine 180 grit.”
Thomas Hopkins likes a bit of rough. “I may be swimming against the tide here, but I rather enjoy a lack of smoothness, Jasprit Bumrah a current favourite player. There’s something delightfully contrary about his action.”
When we talk smooth bowling actions we’re naturally drawn to pace, but what about SK Warne? Has there been a more fluid action in the game?
Steve Smith doing Steve Smith things…
Because we change writers during the day we will often receive emails intended for the person on deck long after we’ve logged off. Sometimes these provide obvious clues about what was being discussed in our absence, like Scott Roberts’s email titled “Getting Smith out”. (His answer, by the way, is “decide how we’re trying to get Smith out and stick to that plan”.) But on other occasions it is frankly impossible to imagine what on earth was going on. This morning, for example, I logged on to find an email from David Baker with the message “The Communards, Don’t leave me this way.” No idea what it was related to, but it’s a banger.
A lovely interjection from Mr Naylor.
Agree with a lot of this. Here’s an Allan Donald masterclass.
If there’s cricket news about Ali Martin will sniff it out. Like confirmation Olly Stone will miss the rest of the Ashes through injury.
“I put forward Shane Bond in the smooth action category,” nominates Avitaj Mitra. “A pity his career was wrecked with injuries. The stats don’t do justice to the kind of bowler he was.” Superb bowler, but for me anyway not in the same class as someone like Holding for smoothness. Bond’s action is all about the effort in the snap of the delivery stride.
Curtley’s a nice shout. I used to love how his smooth action concealed a Pythagorean use of angles.
John Starbuck is quickest off the mark in the daily email race. Attracted to the blog by the lure of smooth. “Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall and Richard Hadlee are top of my list,” John emails. “We shall have to wait a season or two before Jofra Archer finds his correct place in the Dean Martin Stakes.” Three superb bowlers, each with very different actions. For pure smooth though I’m leaning towards Holding.
Andy Bull had the pleasure of filing his column on Jofra Archer. Question: where does Archer’s action rank on the all-time smoothness scale? We can have subcategories for contemporary and all-time comparison.
Weather: The headline news is the forecast is dry for the remainder of the Test. Aside from that it should be around 20C for most of today but there’s a stiff south-westerly which should keep everyone in Lord’s on their toes.
Already forgotten what happened yesterday? Fear not because Vic Marks didn’t miss a thing. This paragraph in particular captures the state of play.
That outcome is still by no means guaranteed, however, and the captains will ensure none of the players is seduced into concluding the draw is inevitable – and with good reason. In the 21st century batsmen are less adept at batting out for a draw and there are still 196 overs available in the second Ashes Test.
Hello everybody and welcome to the fourth day of the second Test from Lord’s.
The good news is the rain has cleared and we’re set for a full day’s play. The bad news is, frankly, all over the place right now so let’s not dwell on that half of the aphorism and just enjoy the cricket, like this 24 carat nugget of pure joy.
If that didn’t make you smile you’ve got a brick for a heart and we can’t be friends.
I’ll be with you for the next hour or so but once play begins Adam Collins will shower you in text. If you want to join in this pre-play fun you can drop me an email or a tweet.