By Simon EvansMANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Steve Smith’s domination of England’s bowling attack in the Ashes series reached new heights yesterday as his magnificent 211 led Australia to 497-8 declared on the second day of the fourth Test at Old Trafford.England lost opener Joe Denly for four, brilliantly caught by Matthew Wade at short leg after he fended off a rising delivery from Pat Cummins to leave them struggling on 23-1 at the close.But a day in which Australia surely smelled again the chance to make sure of retaining the Ashes was all about Smith.It takes nothing away from the appreciation of the 30-year-old’s fine demonstration of the art of Test batting to note that as well as his impeccable timing and shot selection he also enjoyed good fortune.Having made his third century of the series, Smith was on 118 when he was caught by Ben Stokes at slip off left-arm spinner Jack Leach. Unfortunately for the hosts, their joy turned to despair when video officials deemed Leach had delivered a no-ball.As the top-ranked Test batsman in the world was making his way towards the pavilion, the video reviewers spotted that Leach’s front foot was not behind the crease when he let go of the ball, handing the Australian his second reprieve of the day.Smith had had a lucky escape in the second over of the day when Jofra Archer dropped a caught-and-bowled chance after his full toss was driven straight back at him.Those were the “if only” moments for England but the bigger picture was that Smith has succeeded in making a mockery of the idea that the hosts had gained momentum from their remarkable comeback victory at Headingley in the last Test.Smith missed that drama due to concussion but his scores in this series speak for themselves – 144, 142, 92 and 211 at an average of 147.25.BUOYANT MOODEngland did indeed come into this match in buoyant mood but minute by minute, over by over and run by run, Smith drained away their self-belief.The sixth-wicket partnership with captain Tim Paine (58) added 145 and put Australia firmly in control.England’s misery in the afternoon session was compounded when all-rounder Stokes went off with an injury, unable to finish his overs of bowling.Stokes, who kept England in the series with his unbeaten 135 in the run chase at Headingley, returned to the field having had treatment for soreness in his right shoulder, but did not bowl.His brief absence did have an indirect impact on the game as Stokes’ replacement in the field, Sam Curran, dropped Paine when he was on 49.Curran spilled a chance at mid-on after Paine had lofted a drive off Archer and the same batsman was dropped in the first over after lunch by Jason Roy at second slip off Stuart Broad.None of England’s seamers or Leach was able to seriously trouble Smith and in the end, with the third double-century of his Test career – the previous two also came against England – in the bag, he fell to the occasional spin of captain Joe Root.As Smith headed back to the pavilion, there were still a smattering of now tiresome boos from England fans, recalling his 12-month ban for his role in a ball-tampering affair, but most at Old Trafford stood in appreciation.AUSTRALIA 1st innings (o/n 170-3)M. Harris lbw b Broad 13D. Warner c Bairstow b Broad 0M. Labuschagne b Overton 67S. Smith c Denly b Root 211T. Head lbw b Broad 19M. Wade c Root b Leach 16T. Paine c Bairstow b Overton 58P. Cummins c Stokes b Leach 4M. Starc not out 54N. Lyon not out 26Extras: (b-8, lb-14, w-3, nb-4) 29Total: (8 wkts decl., 126 overs) 497Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-28, 3-144, 4-183, 5-224, 6-369, 7-387, 8-438.Bowling: Broad 25-2-97-3, Archer 27-3-97-0 (nb-1), Stokes 10.5-0-66-0 (nb-2), Leach 26.1-3-83-2 (nb-1), Overton 28-3-85-2 (w-3), Denly 3-1-8-0, Root 6-0-39-1.
Dear Editor,I am pleased for the United Kingdom. They now have a strong Government with the prospect of being in power for the full term and which will allow them to do progressive things for their people. That is great news for their economy and their people. These elections were about Brexit and the overwhelming majority of the British people are sick and tired of how long this issue was allowed to drag on because of political squabbling. Mr Boris Johnson came in as an outsider and the people decided to give him a full mandate to do what he said he would do because he was consistent in his messages. But more so, the people heard Jeremy Corbyn and they found him to be speaking from two sides of his mouth on Brexit, despite the people giving a clear mandate to Westminster to leave the EU. So the people decided to send a strong signal as to who is the real boss. They do not want people of verbal waffle and rhetoric like Jeremy Corbyn in power and they certainly do not want politicians in place who are not listening to them.These elections in the United Kingdom have many lessons for Guyana but I shall just deal with two of them today as follows:The role of the Brexit Party – Many Labour supporters who could not bring themselves to vote for the Conservatives but wanted to leave Europe, voted for the Brexit Party while the Conservatives’ base held strong. This act destroyed the Labour Party fortunes while keeping the Conservatives intact. Elections are about numbers and nothing else and sometimes 1 + 1 is equal to 3 in politics. It was the Brexit Party that got too many Labourvoters to cross-over to them and this caused the Labour Party to lose vital marginal seats to the Conservatives. The lesson that was reinforced here is that elections are all about the marginal voters.Meanwhile, in Guyana, the PPP/C must pay more attention to the marginal votes. The PPP/C has to make sure that the entire nation is aware that a vote against the Cup is a vote for the Palm Tree. It is as simple as that! Many of these third forces were formed in Congress Place as PNCR fronts; set up by the PNCR, for the PNCR, and to help the PNCR win power again using smoke and mirror tactics as developed in the Bahamas by two PNCR leaders. Again a vote against the PPP/C is a vote for the PNCR. So my message is simply this – beware of most of these small parties. Even with all their sweet messages, many of them are being funded by the PNCR and are on a leash tied to Congress Place. Such a situation will only be contributing to the destruction of democracy by helping the undemocratic forces in the PNCR who continue to deny this nation free and fair elections in violation of the Constitution. After 4 years and 5 months of underperformance on the human development front, it is clear that the PNCR totally deserves their place on the Opposition benches after March 2020. My final wish is, let the people speak!2. The lack of policy leadership and competence in the PNCR – The last 12 months exposed how ill-equipped and incompetent Mr David Granger is on the big issues. He has proven that he does not have what it takes to unequivocally confront the major anxieties of the people. Unfortunately, he was ill for most of the time and because of this major determinant, he was unavailable to the people. In his absence, his deputy was not empowered to act because no one in the Cabinet had much respect or trusted his decision-making capabilities because of what the PNCR did to him post-May 2015. Mr Granger reshaped Mr Moses Nagamootoo’s image from a firebrand politician before 2015 into an opportunistic “rubber stamp”. What Mr Granger left in his absence was an unchecked “cabal of Ministers” who did their own thing like wild horses on the prairie. Many of them made it up as they went along without any coordination on the major policy issues. So in the absence of Mr Granger, the Government floated from one crisis to another as indecision became the order of the day. As indecision expanded, corruption in the Government also expanded as senior officials pounced on the opportunity that such an unchecked environment provided. That is why you can have a former Minister who was allowed to move from a shared accommodation with her family in a $15 million house to one that cost over $150 million within 2 years. This was what team Granger came to represent for the people – incompetence and corruption.This is what the Guyanese people are seeing and many have already made up their minds based on the above factors and so many more. The destiny of this nation is what it is and Mr Granger must be a man and accept his faith because the voice and the will of the people are all that matters today.Regards,Sase Singh