Men’s Ashes: First Specsavers Test, Edgbaston (day three of five)
284 (Smith 144, Broad 5-86) (Smith 46*)
England 374 (Burns 133, Root 57, Stokes 50)
lead by 34 runs

England are already on “Plan X” to batsman on day three of the first Ashes Test, says former captain Michael Vaughan.

Smith scored a stunning 144 on day one at Edgbaston and is unbeaten on 46 in his second innings.

closed day three on 124-3, leading by 34 runs, after England earlier posted 374.

has frazzled England in only his second innings of the series,” Vaughan told Test Match Special.

“He’s a freak of nature, he reads the ball and the field so well.

“England captain Joe Root is on Plan X – you can understand that, I’d be doing exactly the same.”

Smith is averaging 145 in his past 10 innings against England; he scored 687 runs at an average of 137.40 in the last Ashes down under before his year-long ban for his part in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in 2018.

Root has tried numerous tactics against Smith in this Test, bowling different lines and changing the field, and even had all nine fielders on the boundary in the first innings.

Vaughan says the hosts should “go back to basics” and try to force Smith into a mistake.

“You’ve got to bowl full on off stump and just hope one nips back and get him lbw or bowled or one nips away and he’s caught behind,” he said.

“The more you see him and the more you see England try all these different things, I just think you’ve got to break it down to the basics of the game.

“Or maybe they just have to hope has a dodgy breakfast.”

Former England batting coach Mark Ramprakash said he is “sick to death” of talking about Smith.

“We had numerous discussions about how to get him out – the problem is on this type of surface, which is fairly benign, with not much pace or late movement, he is very unorthodox and very difficult to tie down,” he said.

“Bowlers don’t like bowling a lot of deliveries outside off stump that are just left so they target the stumps but, with Smith, if you bowl at the stumps he just picks you off to the leg side.

“We are dancing to his tune, he seems to have an answer for everything England throw at him.”

England bowler Chris Woakes, who shared a 65-run ninth-wicket stand with Stuart Broad on Saturday, said the hosts will “go back to the drawing board” to figure out how to bowl at Smith.

“Steve doesn’t make too many mistakes, but we have to find a way,” he said.

“We’ll look at a few plans overnight and see what we can come up with.”

After collapsed to 122-8 in the first innings, Smith added 162 with Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon to help the tourists reach 284.

“We put pressure on the other batters in the first innings and we’ll try to do that again,” said Woakes.

“But we’ll be looking to get Steve out if we can because we saw how destructive he was at the back end of the first innings.”


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