Smith hands Aus complete control of Test

Australia pressed towards a series-levelling Ashes victory on Friday, powered by Steve Smith’s maiden double-century and Mitchell Johnson’s express pace.

Smith heaped further misery on England at Lord’s, scoring 215 as Australia declared one over after tea at 8-566 on day two.

Johnson then made a mockery of those moaning about the quality of the pitch, blasting out Gary Ballance and Joe Root as the hosts collapsed to 4-30.

By stumps they’d recovered to 4-85 with Alastair Cook on 21, but the England skipper has a long battle ahead if his side are to salvage a draw.

Based on the past 120 years that’s all they can achieve in this contest.

With the exception of a timeless Test at the SCG in 1894, no side has ever posted such a high first-innings total then lost the game.

Smith was the catalyst, demoralising England after the hosts offered him a life on 50 when Ian Bell grassed a low catch at second slip.

The 26-year-old broke all manner of records after starting day two on 129.

His 284-run partnership with Chris Rogers, who fell for 173 prior to lunch, was Australia’s highest stand at Lord’s.

It was the first double-ton by an Australian at the venue since 1938, with Smith following Don Bradman and Bill Brown to become the third Australian to achieve the milestone at Lord’s.

Smith was a picture of concentration and class until an ungainly end, when he attempted to reverse-sweep Joe Root and was trapped lbw.

The No.3 batsman reviewed the decision, as the ball almost struck him outside the line, but ball-tracking replays suggested it was ‘umpire’s call’.

It was an unfitting end to a masterclass that lasted eight and a half hours.

Smith was dismissed cheaply by Moeen Ali in Australia’s woeful first-Test loss at Cardiff, where he tried to hit the offspinner out of the attack.

This time around, the right-hander was watchful. Naturally aggressive, rather than overly aggressive.

Smith was instead content to wait for the bad balls.

He played with supreme confidence, striking well-timed boundaries and working the singles like it was centre-wicket practice.

The knock will be construed as a statement to England paceman Stuart Broad and former offspinner Graeme Swann, who questioned Smith’s technique and capacity to bat at first drop prior to the five-Test series.

Smith will care more about finally passing 200, having been dismissed for 192 at the MCG and 199 at Kingston in an astonishing run of form since December.

Michael Clarke delayed his declaration until after tea, forcing England to spend a 149th over in the field.

There was little time to wonder whether Clarke had given his bowlers enough time to take 20 wickets.

Adam Lyth lasted two balls, Mitchell Starc finding an edge that debutant wicketkeeper Peter Nevill gleefully accepted.

Ballance and Ian Bell were both clean bowled, by Johnson and Josh Hazlewood respectively.

Johnson snared 2-1 from seven balls, with Root prodding at a wide ball and feathering an edge to Nevill.

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