Australia 4 for 479 (Khawaja 171, S Marsh 98*, Smith 83, M Marsh 63*) lead England 346 by 133 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
If the new year is about fresh starts, then Usman Khawaja has nailed the brief. Having failed to score a Test century in 2017, Khawaja used his first innings of 2018 not only to raise his sixth Test hundred, but to bat, and bat, and bat some more, spending 381 balls at the crease in the longest innings of his decade-long first-class career. Khawaja's 171 was the centrepiece of a day of Australian dominance at the SCG, where Shaun Marsh was also approaching triple-figures by stumps, and Australia, hoping not to have to bat again in the match, had built a 133-run lead.
For England, it was a long, hot, demoralising six hours in the field. They managed only two wickets all day, and the best that could be said of their results was that they prevented Steven Smith from making yet another century. And frustrating? Was it ever frustrating for England. Mason Crane missed a maiden Test wicket due to a no-ball, and both Marsh brothers, Shaun and Mitchell, were given out only to be reprieved on review. Both were still there at stumps, Shaun on 98 and Mitchell on 63, with Australia's total on 4 for 479.
Crane's bowling was one of the stories of the day. He turned some big legbreaks, and googlies, and induced the odd false stroke, but made even more false starts himself. The sight of Crane walking to his crease, entering his delivery stride, and then holding on to the ball became about as ubiquitous on day three at the SCG as pink clothing. Perhaps he was worried about no-balling, for he often landed close to or over the crease, and had missed out on the wicket of Khawaja in the final over before lunch due to a no-ball.
Coming around the wicket, Crane turned a big legbreak in to Khawaja, who thrust his pad out without playing the ball, and England asked for a review of the not-out lbw decision. Replays showed that, by a small margin, Crane had failed to land his foot behind the crease. Ball-tracking went on to show that Khawaja would have otherwise been out. An exasperated Crane appeared to argue the point, pointlessly, with umpire Kumar Dharmasena. Quite how a spinner can so consistently be close to no-balling is a matter for Crane to rectify.
At length, he did manage his maiden Test wicket, and it was Khawaja. But by the time Crane beat the advancing Khawaja and had him stumped by Jonny Bairstow, the batsman had 171 runs, and had been at the crease for nearly nine hours. It was a patient innings from Khawaja, who brought up his hundred - his first in Ashes cricket, and his first at the SCG - from his 222nd delivery, and his 150 from his 334th. Until this Test, the best Khawaja had to show for this Ashes was a pair of fifties; this innings alone buys him a lengthy stay in the side.
His dismissal, shortly after tea, was the last breakthrough England would make all day. The Marsh brothers made it three consecutive century partnerships for Australia in this innings - Khawaja and Smith had put on 188, Khawaja and Shaun Marsh 101, and by stumps Shaun and Mitchell Marsh had compiled an unbeaten 104.
England thought they had Mitchell Marsh late in the day when he was given out lbw off the bowling of Tom Curran, and asked for a review. The third umpire, S Ravi, overturned the decision on the basis of Marsh having nicked the ball, though the Hot Spot and Snicko evidence appeared far from conclusive. At least the ball was shown to be missing the stumps in any case, so Marsh would have been let off even without the supposed edge.
On 22, Shaun Marsh had been given out caught behind off the part-time offspin of Joe Root, and after consulting with Khawaja, he called for a review. It was hard to work out why Marsh had not reviewed immediately, for the replays showed between bat and ball a gap big enough that Cameron Bancroft could almost have been bowled through it. Marsh went on to register his fifty from 121 balls, and by stumps was eyeing off a sixth Test century.
He had come to the crease after the dismissal of Smith in the penultimate over before lunch. Smith appeared destined for his fourth hundred of the series when on 83 he chipped a return catch to Moeen Ali, who was bowling around the wicket. It was Moeen's fourth wicket of the series, and the first time he had dismissed a right-hander in this campaign. And given Smith's recent dominance, England could have hoped that wicket turned the tide. One wicket and 205 runs later, it was clearly anything but the case.