On playing his first Test since the 12-month suspension Steve Smith has announced his return in style as he slammed his 24th Test century on Day 1 of the opening Ashes Test in Birmingham.
Putting on a gritty, aggressive performance, it was ‘classic’ Smith at Edgbaston, leading from the front after the visitors had a horrid start to the innings. Australia lost openers David Warner and Cameron Bancroft before Lunch and lost wickets at a rapid pace till Smith built a 50+ partnership with Peter Siddle.
Smith smashed 144 of 219 balls, which included 16 fours and 2 sixes. It could be one of the greatest knocks played by the former captain given the immense pressure he played under. At one point of time, Australia were 112/8, but it was Smith’s undying passion which helped Australia post an unimagined 284 before being bowled out.
With James Anderson complaining of tightness after bowling four overs (3 maidens), the responsibility was taken up by Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes, where they shared 8 wickets amongst themselves, with Broad claiming a fifer.
Earlier, after reaching 83/3 in overcast conditions at Lunch in the first test, Australia’s first innings collapsed in the afternoon session with only former captain Steve Smith and Travis Head (35) offering any resistance.
England seamers Broad and Woakes gave dominating performances which will have encouraged Australia’s bowlers.
Woakes trapped Head leg before wicket to end his 64-run fourth-wicket partnership with Smith. Australia then fell to 105/5 in a match dominated by lbw decisions and reviews when England successfully challenged a not out decision against Matthew Wade (1) off Woakes.
Tim Paine (5) thought the wicket looked “really good” when choosing to bat first but the Australia captain was comfortably caught by Rory Burns at deep square leg off Broad, who then dismissed James Pattinson leg before to leave Australia in trouble at 112/7.
A powerful inswinger from Ben Stokes claimed Pat Cummins (5) before Smith brought up his 25th test 50 in 119 balls to earn loud boos from England fans who haven’t forgiven him for his role in a ball-tampering scandal last year against South Africa.
Australia – 284 (Smith 144, Broad 5/86, Woakes 3/58)
England – 10/0, trail by 274 runs