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Warner in awe of ‘freak’ Smith

Opening batsman heaps praise on Australia's run-scoring machine after another impressive display at the MCG

David Warner blasted a Boxing Day century in the fourth Magellan Ashes Test and was then left in awe of Steve Smith's composure to end day one at the MCG.

The unbeaten skipper helped Australia finish 3-244 at stumps.

Smith struggled to contain his glee when the coin fell his way for the first time this series, guaranteeing the hosts first use of a flat pitch as they seek to further embarrass England after reclaiming the urn in Perth.

Warner pummelled England's beleaguered attack in the morning session, scoring 83 from 94 balls as Australia raced to 0-102 at lunch.

Day Wrap: Warner, Smith lead charge for Aussies

The hosts managed just 43 runs in the middle session, when Warner benefited from a no-ball reprieve on 99 before he fell soon after for 103.

Shaun Marsh would have been dismissed for a first-ball duck amid a collapse of 4-38 had Joe Root's review of an lbw shout from Stuart Broad proven a good call.

Instead, as has been the narrative throughout the five-Test series, Smith led the way as Australia excelled at a clutch moment.

Summer of Smith continues with MCG fifty

"He's just a freak," Warner said of Smith, who will resume on 65.

"I don't know he does what he does. He's very mentally strong.

"We all wish we were half the batter Steve Smith is at the moment.

"He's seeing the ball like a watermelon and making it look so easy."

Warner leads Boxing Day rush with 21st Test century

Smith has scored 434 Test runs at the MCG since his most recent dismissal at the venue - in 2014 when he produced a captain's knock of 192 against India.

The skipper has tallied 491 runs at 163.66 in the Ashes series, including a career-best dig of 239 at the WACA that was rewarded with man-of-the-match honours.

Smith and Marsh combined in an unbeaten 84-run stand, exhibiting the same composure they showed at the Gabba to put the wheels in motion for Australia's unassailable 3-0 series lead.

Root, having started the day with defensive fields to Warner, oddly waited 5.4 overs to take the second new ball as a settled Smith picked gaps with trademark ease.

Hugh Jackman does the Ashes ball-by-ball call

Warner backed Australia's quicks to force a result on the slow surface.

"With our world-class attack the ball will probably shift a little bit more ... it's about drying up the runs and bowling to straight fields," he said.

"You're going to have to build pressure to take 20 wickets."

Warner spent more than half an hour in the 90s.

He was dismissed by Tom Curran a run short of a ton, only for a replay to reveal the debutant paceman overstepped.

Warner caught on 99 ... but England rookie oversteps

Australia's vice-captain brought up his 21st Test century the next delivery then traded heated barbs with several England players.

The tourists' pace attack bowled tight spells to shift momentum after lunch, with Jimmy Anderson's graft rewarded with the scalp of Warner.

"We've all worked really hard on this trip and want to get something out of it," Anderson said.

"It's tiring but that's Test cricket."

Australia XI: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Mitch Marsh, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.

England XI: Joe Root (c), Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Dawid Malan, Chris Woakes, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Tom Curran, Stuart Broad, James Anderson

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard

Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard

Third Test Australia won by an innings and 41 runs. Scorecard

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21