Magellan Ashes 2017-18
Prolific Smith reveals three best Test tons
In his exclusive column for cricket.com.au, the Australia captain reveals where his Ashes-opening century ranks among his best Test hundreds
Steve is the 45th Test captain of Australia, one-day and T20 captain, and is a world-class batsman
In the wake of my century at the Gabba in the first Test of the Magellan Ashes series, a lot of people have asked me where it ranks among the hundreds I’ve been privileged enough to score in the Baggy Green.
Having had some time to think about it, the 141 in Brisbane is in my top three innings for Australia, with each knock earning its place for different reasons.
The century at the start of the summer was all about leadership. The first match of an Ashes series is so important. I was really determined to try and start the series really well and lead by example.
It was a lot of hard work, I had to get through a lot of difficult periods and England set quite defensive fields to me at times.
I just felt in a good place and never at any stage did I feel threatened by England’s bowling attack. I just felt at ease and in my own little bubble out there in the middle.
It was my slowest hundred and I had to shelve some shots, be patient, disciplined and resilient.
Discipline and resilience are two things I talk about with the team, so as the leader it was important that I showed those traits and got through those testing periods and put a big score on the board.
Like I did in Brisbane, I managed to start the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series in India this year with a century.
Before our team had even set foot in the subcontinent we were written off by everyone, which made my 109 and more importantly our win in Pune that much more satisfying.
The Pune wicket was incredibly challenging with the ball spinning sharply from the first session, so by the time our second innings started it was turning big.
I haven’t scored too many second-innings hundreds and although I had a few lives along the way, I was proud of the way I stuck to my plans and was able to think on my feet.
A good example of that was when I started sweeping India’s off-spinner Ravi Ashwin.
In the lead up to the match I didn’t think about sweeping Ashwin, hadn’t practiced it but it just felt right.
With left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja continually beating me on the outside edge, I just took my ego out of play and kept playing for that straight one, confident that if it spun it was going to go so far it would beat the edge.
That was my mantra throughout the whole tour but particularly in this game.
It was such an important game, the first match of the series, and while it was great to get the result we fell just short in the series as a whole.
But that century really set me up for the rest of the series and just showed me and everyone that I could score runs anywhere.
Finally, to the other side of the world and South Africa back in February, 2014.
The first Test in Centurion, where I scored an even 100, came to mind in Brisbane just a few weeks ago.
Australia was in a very similar position in Brisbane as we were in Centurion on our last Test tour there.
Shaun Marsh and I batted together and put on an important partnership in both matches.
When we walked off the field that first night in Brisbane after coming together at 4-76, I said to SOS, ‘Actually, this reminds me a lot of Centurion, let’s go out and do what we did there. It’s a great opportunity for us.’ In Centurion we came together at 4-98 and put on 233 for the fifth wicket.
It didn’t quite pan out that way at the Gabba but we put on 99 I thought he played really well again to get his 51.
Centurion was a place where we were playing against perhaps the best bowling attack in the world at the time. Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel are three are very good bowlers and away from home on quite a bouncy track they were a hard task to say the least.
But I was really disciplined, left really well, hit the bad balls and rotated the strike well.
I was in the zone but I was still finding my way as an international batsman.
I was still learning a lot about my game and trying to play like I do now.
My preliminary movement – where I walk across my crease – was still pretty new.
That would have been its fourth Test. Perth, Melbourne Sydney and then Centurion. I was still trying to make that work and against a good attack.
That gets in my top three for giving me the belief that I could do it against anyone if I could do it against those three bowlers.
However, those innings while personally significant, mean nothing if the team doesn’t win.
I’d prefer to get a duck in every game and win as a team. Well, maybe not every game. I’d like to score some runs!
But if you score a hundred and the team loses it’s almost irrelevant.
Fortunately, most of my hundreds have come in winning causes, so let’s hope I can muster another in the last Ashes Test ever at the WACA Ground and contribute to another Australian victory.
2017-18 International Fixtures
Magellan Ashes Series
Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers.
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). Tickets
Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Tickets
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