The Ashes - Third Test, Day Three: Steve Smith scores a double hundred as the series slips further away from England

The tourists took just one wicket in the entire day.

The Ashes - Third Test, Day Three: Steve Smith scores a double hundred as the series slips further away from England
Smith celebrates reaching 200 (photo: Getty Images / Philip Brown)

A faultless display of batting by Australian captain Steve Smith developed a 146-run lead with six wickets still remaining in the hosts' first innings. Victory in the third Test now looks unlikely for England who will be hoping for a draw to keep the series alive.

False hope as Shaun Marsh falls early

Beginning the day on 203-3, Smith was patient but efficient has he quickly transformed his overnight score of 92 into his second century of the series. Yet England smelt blood as Shaun Marsh failed to capitalise on his century in the second Test, edging Moeen Ali to Joe Root for a score of 28.

With Australia still 155 runs behind at that point and the second new ball approaching availability, the contest was firmly in the balance. Yet England's seam attack encountered a familiar problem on this tour...they simply do not have the pace to trouble the Australian batsmen like their counterparts from Down Under possess in abundance.

464 balls of despair for the tourists

Instead, Shaun Marsh's brother, Mitchell, came to the crease and caused havoc alongside his captain. The Australian number six's place in the squad had been criticised by many Aussie followers but he used the next 77.2 overs to prove the doubters wrong.

After 21 Tests scoring an average of 21, Marsh played shots all around the wicket, making it difficult for England captain Root to set a field. Numerous ideas were trialled by the visiting bowling attack but they simply could not find a breakthrough.

Smith's batting was rather more predictable as he manufactured a series of off-side shots. Yet his batting was faultless, offering no chances to the visitors as he batted throughout the entire day. James Anderson twice called for two LBW's but failed to overturn either 'not out' decision with a review.

With an average now above 62, Smith is second only to Donald Bradman in the batting stakes. He eased his way to a double hundred, becoming the first captain to achieve such a feat since 1993 in an Ashes Test.

England praying for a draw

Australia ended the day on 549-4 with Smith sitting on 229 and Marsh enjoying an unbeaten 181. Meanwhile, four touring bowlers have been dispatched for over 100 runs, with premier bowlers Anderson and Stuart Broad failing to take a wicket between them in 57 overs.

The hosts are batting themselves into an unbeatable position, leaving England praying for the forecasted rain to help them avoid defeat in this critical Test. Such a result would leave a 2-2 draw possible if England win the last two Tests, thus ensuring the tourists retain the famous urn. Yet victory for Australia in the next two days will ensure they regain Ashes and continue their quest towards Glenn McGrath's predicted whitewash.