Follow-on call backfires on Australia skipper Smith

Steve Smith chose not to enforce the follow-on against England and it backfired when the Australia skipper was trapped lbw in a top-order '¨collapse that altered the complexion of the inaugural day-night Ashes test.

England's Chris Woakes celebrates taking the wicket of Steve Smith. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Nathan Lyon took a stunning return catch among his four wickets as Australia bowled England out for 227 on the third day, a 215-run deficit that gave Smith the option of sending the tourists straight back in and attempt to compound their woes under lights.

The pink ball swings further and moves more off the seam in night conditions that are ideally suited to veteran England paceman Jimmy Anderson, but Smith decided to 
bat again in a bid to build a 
big lead.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Anderson duly stepped in. He and Chris Woakes took two wickets each to have Australia’s second innings in deep trouble at 53-4 at stumps, an overall lead of 268 runs.

Afterwards, Aussie paceman Mitchell Starc was equivocal in his endorsement of Smith’s decision not to enforce the follow-on, but pointed out Australia are still almost 270 runs to the good in pursuit of a 2-0 series lead.

Asked if the bowlers were consulted by the captain over whether to bat again, Starc said: “It was purely up to Smithy. There’s pros and cons to both decisions.

“The bowlers will have some extra time to freshen up and knock them over, we hope.

“We know the night sessions are the toughest time to bat.

“England only had to do it for ten overs so far, and if they want to win this Test match they’re going to have to go through two night sessions… great times for us.

“We’re still very much in the driving seat.”

England meanwhile, were a “frustrated” team even after their late fightback. Joe Root’s men conceded a mammoth 215-run lead when they were bowled out for 227 at the Adelaide Oval, despite a fine eighth-wicket stand of 66 between debutant Craig 
Overton and Woakes.

Even though they were spared having to bat again under the lights, both Anderson and Woakes hinted the situation was still a case of what might have been if only they had bowled and batted better for the majority of the first innings.

“We’ve got some very frustrated players in the dressing room,” Anderson said. “We didn’t feel like we batted particularly well.

“All we can do as bowlers is try our best and that’s what we did tonight. We gave it absolutely everything.”

Woakes was at pains to stress no-one was playing the blame game. He said: “It’s obviously frustrating as a team, but not as bowlers v batters by any means. We’re here to stick together as a team.

“We didn’t play as well as we’d have liked – we need to continue to apply ourselves for long periods at a time.

“We need to make sure that come the next innings, we get stuck into the battle.”

Woakes, and even more so Overton, were very honourable exceptions – faced with some fierce pace bowling from Starc et al.

“I thought [Craig] batted beautifully on debut, going to the crease and getting plenty of verbals – as you’d expect – and plenty of short stuff,” Woakes added.

“I was pretty annoyed with the way I got out. I felt I probably left a few runs out there.

“[But] we fought back well – we’ve pushed Australia back tonight.

“We’re behind in the game, but we’ve fought back and shown some good character and put some pressure back on Australia. I think that’s really important.”