There’d been the regulation bit of bad luck (or whatever) back in the forty-ninth over with Bairstow bowled off what ended up being ruled a no ball after extensive forensic investigation. There wasn’t much in it, and if it hadn’t hit the stumps and attracted the umpire’s attention on the big screen as the batsman went to leave, it would probably have been counted as a perfectly legal delivery.
Back to the decision to bowl Smith.
In these circumstances, with a substantial partnership, the new ball imminent and not much longer to go, it’s the classic time to try something, and it would be handy to have a few options now that Clarke’s back seems to have taken his left arm tweakers out of the equation.
It had been Watson and Siddle, who’d just come back replacing Pattinson who might need a brief spell before taking the new ball and Clarke had been working the changes already, with short spells indicating a willingness to experiment and see what we can manage to come up with.
Handed the ball, Smith delivers four dots, concedes a four and picks up the prize scalp off the last ball, caught at slip off a perfectly pitched leggie.
Siddle bowls again, Smith gets another over, which goes for three, Siddle bowls a maiden and Smith picks up a second wicket off a full toss at the start of his third over. Bairstow pops the ball back for a caught and bowled, and Smith has his sixth Test wicket, five of which have been taken at Lords.
At that point Clarke could have taken the new ball, but with Smith doing what he was doing, why would you? While you’d prefer the bowler to land them, that wicket’s a reminder you don’t always need to.
At 6-279 Siddle delivers a maiden, Smith has another go, and it yields a four. Harris comes on preparing to take the new ball, Smith gets a third, caught behind and with Anderson in as night watchman to protect Broad it’s time to see what the new ball can do.
As it turns out, two doses of the new pill take the score on to 7-289 at stumps.
The key point here is that little cameo from Smith (6 overs, 1 maiden, 3 for 18) has things set up very nicely for the resumption tomorrow. The new pill is just two overs old, Pattinson and Harris will be fresh and if we pick up a quick wicket, at eight-for and Swann still to come, you’d have to think Broad can’t do all that much damage.
My Day One Par Score is around 6 for 320. On that basis, Australia definitely finishes the day with a nose in front with the prospect of a quick conclusion to the innings and the chance to (hopefully) bat all day to set things up...
Outlook: Definitely bullish.