Australia close in on 4-0 after Marsh hundreds


England 346 and 4 for 93 (Root 42*, Bairstow 17*) trail Australia 7 for 649 dec (Khawaja 171, S Marsh 156, M Marsh 101, Smith 83, Warner 56) by 210 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

There will be no 5-0 clean sweep, but Australia have a good chance of mopping up a 4-0 result at the SCG after dominating the fourth day against England. It was a day on which the brothers Marsh, Shaun and Mitchell, both scored centuries, while England’s bowlers fried as temperatures in parts of Sydney reached 47.3 degrees, making it the hottest day in the city since 1939. Australia finally declared after batting for 193 overs and England were left needing to bat nine hours to salvage a draw; within 30 minutes they had lost both their openers.

By stumps, Joe Root had tried to forge some sort of resistance, but it seemed largely futile. Australia were six wickets from victory at the close of play, with England on 4 for 93, still trailing by 210 runs. Root was on 42 and Jonny Bairstow was on 17, but Australia could reasonably believe that one more wicket and it could all end quickly. It will be up to Moeen Ali and the fast bowlers, exhausted as they will be after more than two days in the field, to ensure that is not the case.

If this innings was an opportunity for Mark Stoneman and James Vince to finish their disappointing campaigns on a high, it was an opportunity not taken. Stoneman was lbw to Mitchell Starc for a nine-ball duck in the third over; Vince compiled 18 before he was once again caught off an edge, this time at slip off Pat Cummins. Vince ended the series with 242 runs at 26.88, Stoneman with 232 at 25.77. They have provided England’s selectors with more questions than answers.

Meanwhile, Alastair Cook was beautifully bowled by a Nathan Lyon offbreak for 10, and Lyon also picked up the wicket of Dawid Malan for 5. Malan played back to a delivery from Lyon that skidded on quicker than expected and struck his pad marginally before his bat. His decision to review proved less sound than umpire Joel Wilson’s call to adjudge him lbw; replays showed it was clearly pad first, and would have hit the top of the stumps.

Four wickets in 34 overs was a thoroughly acceptable outcome for the Australians after Smith had declared almost exactly halfway through the middle session on 7 for 649, with a lead of 303. It had been Australia’s longest Test innings, in terms of balls faced, for more than 20 years. Of the top six, only Cameron Bancroft, who was bowled for a duck, had failed to reach fifty.

The day started with Shaun Marsh on 98, and he brought up his sixth Test hundred with a cover-driven boundary off Moeen from the fifth ball of the day. He celebrated with his partner and younger brother Mitchell, and later they again embraced when Mitchell raised his second Test hundred. Mitchell’s milestone came with a two through point, although the brothers almost messed up the moment by hugging in the middle of the second run, before remembering they had to make their ground.

Such was the emotion of two siblings reaching Test centuries side by side. Neither one had been in Australia’s Test team in their last match before the start of this campaign; both received Ashes recalls, and both have repaid the selectors handsomely, with two hundreds each in the series. By the end of the innings, Shaun Marsh was second only to Smith on the series run tally for both sides.

Mitchell Marsh’s joy was short-lived, for he was dismissed next ball after reaching his hundred when Tom Curran managed to jag one back significantly from outside off stump to bowl him for 101. Tim Paine and Shaun Marsh then combined for a 52-run stand before the Marsh was run out on 156. Starc skied a catch off Moeen for a brisk 11 and Paine finished unbeaten on 38 and Pat Cummins on 24.

Legspinner Mason Crane finished with 1 for 193 from 48 overs, giving him the most expensive analysis ever by an England bowler on Test debut, and the fifth most expensive among all-comers. It was another unwanted milestone for England on a tour that has been full of disappointments, and may yet provide one more.


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