Smith congratulates Cook for his double-hundred    Getty Images
Smith congratulates Cook for his double-hundred Getty Images

Steven Smith scored his 23rd Test hundred to quash England’s hopes of victory in The Ashes 2017-18. The fourth Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground ended in a draw as Australia batted throughout the final day, never letting England off the hook. Alastair Cook was adjudged Player of the Match for his magnificent 244*.

David Warner surpassed Virat Kohli’s tally of 20 hundreds on the opening day. Despite losing Cameron Bancroft and Usman Khawaja for ordinary scores, Warner fired on all cylinders and brought up his hundred in 130 balls. He, however, was lucky once. Tom Curran had him caught, on 99, at mid-on, but before he could celebrate his maiden Test wicket, the umpire called it a no-ball. Warner reached the three-figure mark off the next delivery.

If not Warner, Curran got the better of Smith. He bowled away from Smith’s body and induced an inside edge onto the stumps. However, Smith had already done the damage by accumulating 76 runs. His 100-run stand with Shaun Marsh (61) put Australia in command. But, that was that. England scripted a dramatic collapse, sniping up the last 7 wickets for 67 runs. Stuart Broad, who had take a mere 3 wickets thus far, finished with 4 for 51. Amidst this, James Anderson attained a new high, surpassing Courtney Walsh’s 519 wickets and becoming the fifth-highest wicket-taker in Tests.

England’s first innings was cooked with Alastair’s flavour. He quashed the critics by scoring his fifth double-hundred, achieving three feats in the pursuit: he registered the highest score (244*) by a visiting batsman at Melbourne Cricket Ground, the highest by a batsman to carry his bat, and surpassed Brian Lara’s tally of 11,953 runs and became the sixth-highest run-scorer in Tests.

Smith finally put a foot wrong, proving he is only human. He dropped Cook twice during his herculean efforts: first at slip and then at deep square-leg. England took a lead of 164 runs in the first innings, thanks to Broad’s late blitz of 56 runs that helped Cook further frustrate Australia.

England had the hopes of emerging victorious. With over 2 days remaining, they had ample time to throttle England for a low score. That, or anything remote, did not happen: rain dampened England’s dreams on Day Four and then deputy Warner (86) and his captain Steven Smith added 107 runs for the third wicket on the final day to keep the hapless visitors at bay.

Brief scores:

Australia 327 (David Warner 103, Steven Smith 76, Shaun Marsh 61; Stuart Broad 4 for 51, James Anderson 3 for 61) & 263 for 4 (David Warner 86, Steven Smith 102*; James Anderson 1 for 46) drew with England 491 (Alastair Cook 244*, Joe Root 61; Josh Hazlewood 3 for 95, Nathan Lyon for 3 for 109, Path Cummins 4 for 117).

Player of the Match: Alastair Cook

Full scorecard