Sport

Smith falls but Khawaja ton anchors Australia

Smith falls but Khawaja ton anchors Australia”

Khawaja's sixth test century was timely given the 31-year-old hadn't scored a test hundred since his 145 against South Africa in Adelaide in November 2016, and questions around his spot in the team had begun to be asked after only scoring two 50s in six innings this series.

Debutant Mason Crane (1-135) picked up his first Test wicket and was unlucky not to finish the day with better figures, but the pitch is expected to deteriorate for the remaining two days.

Crane had spent the first day with his feet up watching the batsmen largely live up to various expectations.

"It was pretty tough", said Bairstow.

Unfortunately England don't look to have given the youngster enough runs to play with. "I enjoyed all seven balls", Crane said.

"I feel like if we can get him out, take two or three, we hope we can get a first-innings lead".

Crane has worked closely with former Australia leg-spinner Stuart MacGill during his time in Australia.

Crane had described himself as "bricking it" when first called on by his captain during the Sheffield Shield debut in March that returned five wickets.

Mitch Marsh and Shaun Marsh walk from the ground at stumps
Mitch Marsh and Shaun Marsh walk from the ground at stumps

Crane, who took five wickets bowling for New South Wales in a domestic Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground past year, takes encouragement from Warne's one for 150 on his Test debut against India at the SCG in 1992. Sure, there was the odd aberration - such is the wrist-spinner's lot in life - and a number of aborted run-ups that grew thin with the crowd.

But there were also oohs and aahs generated from deliveries that had batsmen in trouble, with Crane bounding in, getting good energy on the ball and always striving for as many revs as possible.

"There were periods where we had a couple of inside-edges that didn't quite get to short-leg, or a couple of edges that didn't quite get to slip".

"It wasn't great", said Cummins. "Normally younger spinners these days bowl flatter and faster because of white-ball cricket".

Drawing huge conclusions from such a first outing would be premature.

There were no wickets but several near misses as Crane got used to bowling at prolific Australia captain Steve Smith, David Warner (56) and Usman Khawaja - who finished unbeaten on 91 out of the hosts' 193-2 in reply to England's 346 all out.

Warne took 1-150 on his Test bow against India and Crane is eager to make a more positive contribution on his debut than one of the greats of the game could muster.

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