Cook continues England fightback after Stoneman falls

Australia’s captain Steve Smith reacts after being bowled by England’s Tom Curran during the second day of the fourth Ashes cricket test match yesterday. REUTERS/David Gray

MELBOURNE,  (Reuters) – Australia spinner Nathan Lyon removed opener Mark Stoneman cheaply but Alastair Cook continued England’s fightback as the tourists cruised to 72 for one at tea on day two of the fourth Ashes test last night.

Cook, within reach of his first half-century of the series, was 37 not out at the break, with England number three James Vince on 17 on a sweltering day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Alastair Cook

England reduced Australia’s first innings lead to 255 runs, having bowled out the hosts for 327 in a hurry after lunch.

Cook and Stoneman saw off Australia’s opening pace salvo before Lyon intervened with another brilliant caught and bowled to dismiss Stoneman for 15.

Cook then dug in with Vince in an unbeaten stand of 37 to cheer sun-baked British fans in another bumper MCG crowd.

England laboured on a slow and flat MCG pitch on day one but quickly had Australia on the back foot when captain Steve Smith and Shaun Marsh resumed on 244 for three in the morning.

Debutant paceman Tom Curran ended Smith’s epic unbeaten run at the MCG by bowling the skipper for 76 to grab his maiden test wicket.

Curran had Smith drag a wider, short delivery onto his stumps, his first dismissal at the MCG since the Boxing Day test against India in 2014.

Smith had scored 445 runs in four innings at the venue, with unbeaten knocks of 165 against Pakistan last year, and 70 and 134 against the West Indies in the 2015 test.

The wicket was a huge relief for Surrey seamer Curran, who had David Warner caught on 99 after lunch on day one, only for the opener to be recalled when the replay showed the bowler had overstepped his mark.

All-rounder Mitchell Marsh was out for nine, also chopping onto his stumps when playing at another wider delivery by all-rounder Chris Woakes.

Shaun Marsh dug in to raise his half-century before being trapped leg before for 61, the wicket awarded after bowler Stuart Broad demanded a review.

Wicketkeeper Tim Paine hit a brisk 24 before becoming the third Australian batsman to chop on with an attempted pull-shot off James Anderson.

It was Anderson’s 520th test wicket, pulling him past Courtney Walsh to fifth on the all-time list.

Broad capped off a dominant morning for England by trapping tail-ender Jackson Bird lbw for four and having Pat Cummins caught at slip for four after lunch.

The veteran paceman finished with 4-51 in a timely response to critics after coming off his worst ever test figures in the third match at the WACA.

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