Woakes admits England need new plan to stop Steve Smith
Chris Woakes admitted England need to go back to the drawing board in a bid to dislodge Australia batsman Steve Smith.
Smith once again held Australia’s Ashes hopes on his shoulders as England’s bowlers fought in vain to dismiss their nemesis on the third evening of the opening Test at Edgbaston.
The home side claimed a handy first-innings lead of 90, all out for 374 after Stuart Broad and Woakes backed up Rory Burns’ maiden international hundred with vital tail-end runs.
They then prised out three wickets before Australia had cleared the deficit, Broad, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes dovetailing to see off the top order, leaving the fate of the game revolving around Smith, who had effortlessly reeled off another unbeaten 46 to follow his first innings of 144.
“We are pleased to a certain extent,” Woakes told Sky Sports after stumps on the third day.
“Our fields weren’t overly attacking on this surface. If you bowl full length and straight it’s hard to get boundaries.
“At the same time, at 124 for three I’d say we’re slightly ahead.”
When asked how to get Steve Smith out, Woakes joked: “Have you got any ideas? He’s obviously a world-class player and world-class players don’t make mistakes.
“On a wicket like that you almost need to build pressure. We need to go back to the drawing board. You hope he makes mistakes, it’s a tricky one.”
Australia will resume on 124 for three, 34 in front, knowing their chances might well live and die with their former skipper.
Australia bowler James Pattinson praised England batsman Burns after his century.
He said: “We came in today and it could have gone either way. We could have let the game slip but to our credit we took six for 100 and now we lead.
“Yesterday we were a bit unlucky. Today it’s hats off to Rory Burns, on another day he could have nicked a few more.
“We have to make the most of it early on and make the most of the new ball before it goes a bit soft and flat.”
Pattinson did not want to put a number on how many runs Australia need to win, but added: “Anything over 150 I think. We want to bat all day tomorrow and try to grind England into the ground a bit.”