Smith leads way as England set ‘Bodyline’ trap for Aussie skipper
England unveiled their modern-day ‘Bodyline’ strategy to reduce the influence of Australia’s master batsman Steve Smith in the first Ashes Test at the Gabba on Saturday.
The tourists view the Australian skipper and world’s top-rated batsman as their number one target as the home side chiselled away at England’s 302 first innings.
At first-hour drinks on the third day Australia were 192 for five and trailing by 110 runs with Smith holding firm on 72 and wicketkeeper Tim Paine, back for his first Test in seven years, on 11.
Captain Joe Root’s field strategy was likened to Bodyline, also known as fast leg theory bowling, a notorious tactic devised by England on their 1932-33 tour of Australia, specifically to combat the dominant batting skills of Don Bradman.
The Australians lost experienced batsman Shaun Marsh early in the first hour of play as England pushed for the big breakthrough in an absorbing cat-and-mouse Ashes struggle.
Marsh reached his first Ashes fifty and eighth in Tests before he was deceived by a slower ball from Stuart Broad and lobbed a catch to James Anderson at mid-off.
Marsh, recalled for an eighth time to the Test team, made 51 in 141 balls and put on 99 runs with Smith for the fifth wicket.
The big wicket 20 minutes into the third day gave the tourists a look at the Australian tail while still 127 runs in front.
Smith had a moment on 69 when a rearing Jake Ball delivery hit the top of his bat but fell out of reach of a close-in fielder.
Root set inventive field settings for paceman Chris Woakes pitching the ball short to Smith.
The England captain placed three fielders in the deep on the leg-side and had no-one in front of the bat on the off-side.