Lunch Australia 4 for 314 (Smith 139*, M Marsh 39*) trail England 403 (Malan 140, Bairstow 119, Stoneman 56, Starc 4-91, Hazlewood 3-92) by 89 runs
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Steven Smith scored his fastest Test century and passed 1000 runs in a calendar year for the fourth consecutive year as Australia continued to fight back in the third Ashes Test at the WACA. At lunch on day three, the Australians had reduced their deficit to 89 runs, with Smith on 139, Mitchell Marsh on 39, and the total on 4 for 314.
The only wicket to fall during the session was that of Shaun Marsh, who edged Moeen Ali to slip for 28, ending his 69-run partnership with Smith. The wicket came against the run of play in a session otherwise dominated by Australia, who added 111 to their overnight total without any other real moments of concern. By lunch, the partnership between Smith and Mitchell Marsh was worth 66.
The dominant force in the innings continued to be Smith, who had started the morning on 92 and had little trouble progressing to the 22nd century of his Test career. He brought up the milestone with a boundary whipped to the leg side off James Anderson, off his 138th delivery. At the Gabba, Smith had read the match situation and ground out his slowest Test hundred; here, he again played for the circumstancs and made his quickest century.
Along the way, Smith also passed 1000 runs in 2017, having also achieved the feat in 2016, 2015 and 2014. Only Matthew Hayden in all of Test history had previously scored 1000 in four consecutive calendar years, and in fact extended his run to five years. Smith’s consistent form – he has averaged 60-plus in each of those four years – suggests a repeat in 2018 is entirely possible.
Smith continued to score at will, driving handsomely through cover when the bowlers overpitched, and at other times walking across his stumps to work the ball through leg. Importantly, he was still there at lunch, and this fact alone gave Australia a good chance of leading by tea. Perhaps the only good news for England was that Craig Overton, who struggled on day two with injury, was passed fit and sent down six overs in the session.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo @brydoncoverdale
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