Smith and Labuschagne hold up England again after Archer strikes twice
Steve Smith resumed his predictably important role in the final Ashes Test, unbeaten at lunch after England took two early wickets on day two at The Oval.
The home side lost their last two batsmen for 23 runs to be bowled out for 294 in the morning session, before Jofra Archer’s double strike left Australia 55 for two at the interval.
David Warner was dismissed for five in controversial fashion as his torrid series continued, given caught behind on DRS but with doubts over the technology, before Marcus Harris followed for three.
That brought Smith to the crease on the back of 671 runs in five innings and he added another 14 alongside Marnus Labuschagne’s 32 not out before the break.
Jos Buttler added just six runs to his overnight score of 64, bowled by Pat Cummins off the pad attempting a big heave down the ground, before Jack Leach’s resistance subsided in the next over.
Mitchell Marsh persuaded him to play on, rounding out a maiden five-wicket haul on his recall to the side.
The start of the Australia innings restored Warner to the spotlight, an increasingly uncomfortable place for the combative opener in recent weeks.
He came to the crease on the back of three successive ducks – signified by a trio of England fans in the appropriate fancy dress – having been dismissed six times in eight innings by Broad.
It was almost seven in nine when he hung his bat in hopeless pursuit of a wide ball in the first over of the reply but instead it was Archer who sent him on his way.
It was a curious dismissal, with umpire Marais Erasmus turning down the initial appeal for caught behind and Archer appearing to accept the decision.
The slip cordon were convinced though, with Root calling for DRS and a definitive spike on UltraEdge appearing just as the ball passed the bat.
That sealed his fate, even though the replays alone did not seem to tally up. Sceptics quickly began poring over the images to isolate the source of the noise but by then Warner was walking off with another failure on his CV.
If he felt hard done by the cameras picked up on a possible equaliser in the very next over, Labuschagne following a Broad delivery down leg side. There was no appeal of note but once again a spike appeared.
There was no doubt over the contact when Archer dismissed Harris, a thick edge well picked up by Ben Stokes at second slip, bringing Smith to the middle.
Archer started well, welcoming him with a 90mph bouncer and beating an airy drive with his second ball, before Joe Root decided to look at Sam Curran’s left-arm swing.
The all-rounder hit some good areas, Labuschagne edging agonisingly wide of Stokes on 15 and Smith surviving successive lbw appeals as he got his angles wrong but a third wicket proved elusive.