Smith's epic ends as Australia stretch lead to 240


Perth (Australia) (AFP)

England finally found a way to remove Australian captain Steve Smith on the fourth day of the third Ashes Test in Perth on Sunday.

Smith was one of three Australian wickets to fall in quick succession before lunch in a marked reversal of England's fortunes from their horrendous third day.

However, it did not stop Australia from extending their lead to a massive 240 as they reached 643 for 7 at lunch on the fourth day, with Tim Paine on 41 and Pat Cummins on 36, in reply to England's 403 all out.

The home side lead the five-Test series 2-0 and have five sessions remaining to secure the Ashes by winning the last-ever Test to be played the WACA Ground.

England's hopes of staying alive in the five-match series seemed to be resting with the weather, as rain was forecast to hit Perth later on Sunday afternoon.

Smith resumed on 229 and added just 10 runs before being adjudged leg before wicket on review after James Anderson's confident shout had been turned down by on-field umpire Chris Gaffaney.

The review ended a chanceless 399-ball epic highest Test innings by Smith, which included 30 fours and one six.

The other overnight batsman, Mitchell Marsh, a few minutes earlier had failed to add to his 181 when he was trapped leg before wicket by Anderson to end a 301-run partnership with Smith.

Australia then had Mitchell Starc run out for one as they lost three wickets for 12 runs, after England had only managed to claim one wicket on the third day.

They were lucky not to lose Paine for 11 when he was given out looking plumb lbw to Anderson, only for a review to show the ball would have gone over the leg stump.

England have reportedly been unhappy with the implementation of decision reviews in the match and according to one UK newspaper have lodged an official complaint after Mark Stoneman was given out contentiously by the third umpire caught off a glove in their first innings.

A bigger worry for their batsmen when they try to save the match may be that there are signs of gremlins appearing in the pitch as cracks begin to open.

In the space of three balls from Chris Woakes, one delivery went along the ground and one reared sharply, while a Stuart Broad delivery in the next over jagged alarmingly from leg to off.