Aussies bat out draw in fourth Ashes Test

Dec 30, 2017 - 6:11 AM Australia's bid for an Ashes whitewash is over but Steve Smith is determined to make it 4-0 after scoring yet another century to help his side escape with a draw in the fourth Test at the MCG.

Smith produced his third ton of the series and the 23rd of his Test career, occupying the crease for 437 minutes to be the most imposing element in a successful stonewall.

Smith finished 102 not out, striking six boundaries as he slowly lifted Australia to 4-263 when play ended at 4.48pm (local time) on Saturday.

The hosts held a 99-run lead when Smith and England counterpart Joe Root agreed a draw was inevitable, with a flat pitch leaving both captains deflated.

The SCG series finale starts on Thursday.

"I'd love to keep winning ... every Test means something to each and every one in both changerooms. As a player, nobody ever thinks of anything as a dead rubber," Smith told reporters.

"We were in a pretty good position here (on day two) and lost 7-80 ... it was hard to get in front.

"To get the guys home for the draw, that was the most satisfying part of it (the hundred)."

Smith suggested it was too early to say whether injured spearhead Mitchell Starc would play in Sydney, while left-arm spiner Ashton Agar has been drafted into the squad.

Root had mixed feelings after ensuring this tour would be a greater success than the trainwreck that unfolded four years ago.

"We didn't want it to be a whitewash but we came into this game fully excited about winning," Root said.

"It wasn't hard to get the guys in the right frame of mind ... they were desperate to prove a lot of people wrong and make sure we get something good out of this tour."

Former captain Alastair Cook typified that approach, producing a record-breaking knock of 244 not out to hand his side a first-innings lead of 164 runs.

Cook was named man of the match.

Smith, ably assisted by David Warner then later Mitch Marsh, dug in desperately as England pushed for a consolation prize after they relinquished the urn in Perth.

The visitors denied Warner a century then dismissed Shaun Marsh with the final ball in Saturday's morning session, tucking into lunch with genuine belief they could force a result.

England failed to conjure a breakthrough with the second new ball after the meal break and Root then struggled for ideas on a docile deck that hardly deteriorated at all.

Smith has now batted for 1882 minutes in this series.

"We exhausted every option ... on a wicket like that it's difficult to get him (Smith) out. We have to make sure we make different plans in place for Sydney," Root said.

Mitch Marsh reined in his natural aggression, scoring 29 runs from 166 deliveries.

Warner also showed uncharacteristic caution, taking 48 overs to compile a 107-run stand with Smith, before throwing away his wicket on 86.

Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad both had big workloads in the game, delivering a combined 111 overs.

Source: AAP

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