14/04/2024

Steve Smith dominated Day Two of the first test against the West Indies (Image: Cricket Australia)

Steve Smith starred on day two.

Australia controlled the vast majority of Day Two thanks to comfortable displays of batting, before West Indies started their resurgence late in the piece.

Steve Smith dominated the second day of affairs in Perth, finding his touch once again it’s no surprise he says it’s the best he’s felt in years. The Aussies comfortably reached 598 before declaring, while the Windies reached stumps 0-74.

Here are the moments that mattered from Day Two at Optus Stadium.

Labuschagne and Smith re-ignite summer love

In a display reminiscent of the summer of 2019, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne worked over the West Indies bowling attack tirelessly. Passing the 200 mark early in the day and finishing on 251.

As their partners watched on together from the stands, the pair stood tall in the first session and defended any untoward advances from the Windies. They looked a class above their Caribbean counterparts as they racked up runs.

 It was a familiar sight watching both players bring up milestones together, and a scary sight for the visitors seeing it during the first innings in Perth.

Smith’s back baby

As if we needed confirmation the change of technique was working, Smith delivered an almost chanceless ton just before lunch on Day Two.

Tightening up his pre-ball technique has given him more balance and control through his stroke. He looked more comfortable at the crease while also having control over the short ball that plagued him last summer.

It was his first test century on home soil in 693 days, his last coming against India in January of 2021. He also equals the greatest to ever do it Sir Donald Bradman with 29 test centuries.

He moves into equal tenth for all-time centuries in Test Cricket, just one behind legends Matthew Hayden and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. A good summer could see him draw level with Sir Alistair Cook in seventh with 33.

His dominance continued past lunch where he built a new partnership with Travis Head, he reached 200 in a dominant display.

Facing a tiring West Indies attack that looks to struggle early in the Australian conditions, what will we see from Steve Smith this year?

Marnus goes big

Smith’s prodigy had his first big score since his last double ton. Had some luck during his innings but made sure to cash in as any good batsman should.

His last three triple-digit scores were low hundreds, he’s been deserving of a big score. Held off on his trademark cover drives early in his innings, looking like signs of maturity.

His second career double ton, both on home soil. He seems to be finding comfort on Australian shores and poses a danger to any travelling nation.

A beautiful knock in his first innings of the summer, he has the potential to score a monstrous amount of runs over the five tests.

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The breakthrough a nation was waiting for

Braithwaite the part-timer bringing himself on to bowl his second over of the match will be talked about in the sheds tonight. Showing his bowlers it can’t be that hard to take wickets.

He almost had Marnus yesterday and came back to finish his work today. He put an end to a 251-run partnership that set Australia up to control the match.

Drifting the ball across the face of the right-hander, Labuschagne played for spin when there was none and caught the edge that caused Joshua Da Silva no issues behind the stumps.

Attacking the edge of the bat looks to be the only way the West Indies will threaten the set batsmen.

With a lack of threatening line or length a glaring problem for the travelling side throughout the first innings.

Worryingly, Marnus seems to be forming a habit of getting out soon after a milestone and may need some work on temperament or staying in the moment to ensure concentration after the relief.

Travis Head sets the tone

Coming out after lunch with clear intent, Head kickstarted the Australian attack looking to drive the West Indies into the ground on Day Two. He cruised to his 50 at almost a run-a-ball, driving the Aussies past the 500 mark and establishing dominance early.

He went at each bowler he faced, tactically and masterfully working them over and exposing their weaknesses. Coming in to face the old ball only helped as straight up-and-down bowling made life easy to bat on the flat deck.

He cruised through the middle session and set himself up for a chance at a fifth test hundred, going into tea at 80 not out.

Australia tighten grip at Tea

An easy session for the Aussies, scoring 166 runs and going into the second break at 3-568. Travis Head and Steve Smith ramped up the run rate with a clear plan of scoring runs fast.

Head goes into the break at 80, while Smith is at 189. Both will be looking to convert into the next milestones while putting Australia in the realm of about 600 runs before declaring and sending the Windies into bat with 20ish overs left in the day.

The most heart-breaking of declarations

From a moment of pure elation to the bottom of despair, the nation watched on as our living legend reached 200 once again. Steve Smith re-announced himself to the world, showing he truly is back, and is set to be a menace in the middle once again.

However just one ball later, after celebrating his former captain’s achievement, Travis Head slashed at a tight ball and chopped it onto his own stumps. Forced to return to the dugout on 99, he walked back with his head down as the crowd cheered in jubilation for the declaration and the actions of Smith.

Head fell short of his fifth test century, but helped secure a strong position for Australia to declare and send the visitors in. Amassing 4-598, Australia holds an intimidating lead after the first innings.

Welcome to the big leagues kid

After spending a day and a half of his debut in the field, we were finally treated to seeing Tagenarine Chanderpaul stride into the middle of the pitch alongside Kraigg Braithwaite to face his first ball.

His first ball came three deliveries into Mitchell Starc’s over. It caught the edge, beating third man and guided away for four. Thinking test cricket must have been the easiest thing in the world, he was soon treated to a grim reality.

In the third over, facing Starc once again, he was hit on the pad to the uproar of the slips cordon. Denied by the umpire, Cummins decided to use a review to send the debutant back to the dressing sheds. Chanderpaul was saved by bounce of Optus, and the orange of ‘umpire’s call’ saved Australia the review.

A few overs later, up against Josh Hazlewood, Chanderpaul missed a ball swinging back into him and caught all 145km/h of the Kookaburra to his box. Folded on the pitch, it took the youngster a few minutes to compose himself and return to batting.

West Indies survive the night

Against all odds, Chanderpaul and Braithwaite faced off Starc and Hazlewood and started to build an innings in response to Australia’s mammoth total.

Finishing the day 0-74, both Batsmen impressed as they tactfully worked through the Australian bowlers. Chanderpaul showed the same class he showed in the Prime Minister’s XI game, working his way to 47 not out off 73 balls.

The more defensive Braithwaite held out as Hazlewood barraged him with ruthless line and length, he’ll resume day three on 18 off 75 deliveries.

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