Langer challenges batsmen to ‘go big’ to win first Test
Australian coach Justin Langer ordered his batsmen to "go big" in a post-play pow-wow at Edgbaston after yet another Steve Smith masterclass rescued the tourists from the brink of an early Ashes defeat.
Smith survived a rattling deliver from Ben Stokes who stuck him on the helmet to get to stumps unbeaten on 41 as the man they call "Smudge" just shook it off and, after some medical attention, batted on.
The short ball came as English seamer Chris Woakes conceded the home team needed to "find a way" to get Smith out, having been able to do the job on the rest of the Aussie batting order
David Warner's lowest ever return in an Ashes Test of just 10 runs and a second straight ugly exit for Cameron Bancroft put the pressure on Australia's middle order to build on the 30-run lead the unbeaten duo of Smith and Travis Head eked out at stumps.
Langer immediately reminded his men of the message team mentor Steve Waugh delivered the day before, that substance over style was the passage to victory on a wearing wicket at Birmingham which could provide spinner Nathan Lyon a canvass for a fourth innings masterpiece.
"His message was that everyone who gets a chance tomorrow, just try to bat big. If we can bat all day tomorrow we'll probably more than likely take a good lead," Aussie fast bowler James Pattinson said.
"JL (Langer) just said coming into the day, it could have gone either way … if they'd gone in front by 150-160, it would have been pretty hard to come back from.
"I know I was sitting last night thinking if we can manage to keep them to a 80-run lead, we'll be right in the game, considering we bat well.
"We have got a little bit of a lead … the message is for the boys to just try and bat as long as we can tomorrow and score as many runs as possible.
"Smithey's batting unbelievably and it looks like he's taken off from the first innings. Travis as well. I think those players will be trying to bat as long as possible.
The importance of a big second innings from Smith, who made 144 in the first innings, cannot be understated, with Matthew Wade, in his Test return, the last recognised batsmen available to come in
Pattinson said Smith was unfazed by the hit on the helmet, and would bat on to take Australia in to some sort winning position
"It was quite a good reaction from him wasn't it? We had a little bit of a chuckle in the dressing-room," Pattinson said.
"But I was talking earlier about great players and how they always stand up when you need them. And I think he's done that in this game. Without him we would be in a bit of trouble.
"He's a fantastic player and to do it after everything he's been through and he's been copping a bit from the crowd, which has amused a lot of people.
"But to his credit, he just gets on with it and he's a fantastic player. He's someone who lifts the group when he's out there. "
"The ball is bit older now, over 25 overs, hopefully it will stop doing as much and Smudge is there. Smithey's batting unbelievably and it looks like he's taken off from the first innings.
"Travis as well. I think those players will be trying to bat as long as possible."