Manchester: Australia’s Ashes run machine Steve Smith said England’s short-pitched bowling played into his hands after his superb innings of 211 put the tourists in firm command of the fourth Test on Thursday.
Australia declared on 497 for eight and removed England opener Joe Denly as Joe Root’s side ended the second day 474 runs behind.
Smith missed the third Test, won by England at Headingley with a remarkable comeback, due to concussion.
That injury came after he was struck by a bouncer from England paceman Jofra Archer at Lord’s but although England tried to discomfort Smith with short-pitched bowling at Old Trafford, he believes it helped him amass his third Test double ton.
Smith had offered a reminder before this match that for all the attention on his duel with Archer on a tricky track at Lords, the England pace bowler had yet to get him out.
“Lord’s was a tough wicket. It was up and down and with the slope, his angle wasn’t very easy with the wicket being up-and-down. That was hard work,” said Smith, whose lowest score in this series is the 92 he made in London.
“I said before the game that if they bowl a lot at my head then they’re not bowling at my stumps and trying to get me out lbw and caught behind the wicket,” said Smith.
“And I think that perhaps played into our favour a little bit in this innings,” he said.
Smith noted that England’s other opening bowler, Stuart Broad, who picked up three wickets, had caused him more trouble bowling a fuller length.
“I think we saw when Stuart Broad came on with the new ball, he bowled some really nice lengths and beat my bat on the outside a couple of times and I got an inside-edge to fine-leg.
“He was quite challenging when he hit that length. For them to go as short as they did and as early as they did with the new-ball, softened that ball up and played into our hands,” he said.
Smith’s consistency against England is remarkable — he has scored at least a half-century in his last eight innings against Joe Root’s side.
The 30-year-old admitted he had luck with Archer dropping a caught and bowled chance and surviving when caught off Jack Leach and the video review spotted a no-ball.
But after missing the drama of Headingley, he was clearly delighted to be back.
“Obviously, it was disappointing to miss the third Test at Headingley, particularly with the way it finished up, it was an amazing Test match and a shame not to be a part of it,” he said.
“It gave me time to recover and get my head right after my concussion. I felt good coming in to the game and was confident and fortunately I scored some runs and got ourselves in a nice position with 497 in the bank.”