Australia build massive lead in Perth

Steve Smith (Getty)
Steve Smith (Getty)

Perth - Australia amassed a crushing 259-run first innings lead before declaring on the fourth day of the third Ashes Test on Sunday thanks to captain Steve Smith's career-best double century.

The hosts declared on 662 for nine when Nathan Lyon holed out just after lunch, leaving Tim Paine unbeaten on 49.

It was Australia's highest-ever Ashes total at home and fifth-highest overall against England.

Although Smith added just 10 to his overnight total before being dismissed for 239, his innings was the cornerstone of the massive total.

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

The home side lead the five-Test series 2-0 and have just under five sessions left to secure the Ashes by winning the last-ever Test to be played on the WACA Ground in Perth.

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

Smith was adjudged leg before wicket on review after James Anderson's confident shout was turned down by on-field umpire Chris Gaffaney.

The review ended a chanceless 399-ball epic innings which included 30 fours and one six.

The other overnight batsman, Mitchell Marsh, had departed a few minutes earlier -- failing 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 also 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 decision review process in the match. According to one British newspaper they have lodged an official complaint after Mark Stoneman was given out contentiously by the third umpire, caught off his glove, in their first innings.

But a bigger worry when they try to save the match may be signs of cracks opening on the pitch.

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.

Anderson finished with four wickets, all claimed on day four, while Broad recorded career-worst figures of 0-142.

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