Super Smith doubles up in Ashes run-degustation
Prolific right-hander's extraordinary series continues with his highest score yet, quelling threat of Jofra Archer in return from concussion
Sam Ferris at Old Trafford, Manchester
5 September 2019, 10:19 PM AEST
Steve Smith silenced any doubters who thought he might struggle in his Test return against England speedster Jofra Archer with his third hundred-plus score of this Ashes series.
Smith scored his 26th Test ton, and third Test double century, in his first innings back since being felled by an Archer bouncer at Lord's which forced him to be substituted out of the match with concussion and miss the following Test at Headingley.
But as Smith pointed out in the lead-in to the Old Trafford Test, despite Archer clocking him twice – once in the forearm and then the sickening blow to the back of the neck – the express paceman had not yet dismissed him.
By the time Australia declared their first innings late on Thursday with 211 to Smith's name and 8-497 on the board, Archer (0-97 off 27 overs) still hadn't found a way though.
While he and the other England fast bowlers dished up plenty of short-pitched deliveries to Smith across the first two days of the fourth Test, the Australian successfully countered each delivery, if a little awkwardly at times, en route to his 11th Ashes century.
It's the second most by an Australian, with Don Bradman leading the way with 19.
Smith struck 11 boundaries on the way to his 160-ball ton, and 24 overall in his 319-ball stay, acknowledging each milestone with subdued celebrations.
Ahead of his return from concussion in Australia's three-day tour match in Derby last week, Smith was asked if he would alter his strategy to combat the bouncer barrage from Archer.
The 30-year-old was as sharp as his eye with his response.
"I'm not really going to change anything," Smith said.
"There's been a bit of talk that he (Archer) has got the wood over me, but he hasn't actually got me out.
"He hit me on the head on a wicket that was a bit up and down at Lord's.
"He actually didn't get me out. All the other bowlers have had more success against me I daresay.
"I've faced them a bit more, but they've all got me out a lot more.
"I'm pretty comfortable with that.
"Now it's just about getting out there and playing the game."
Smith becomes just the fifth Australian to score three centuries in an Ashes series on foreign soil, joining Charlie Macartney (1926), Bradman (1930, 1938), Arthur Morris (1948) and David Boon (1993).
Smith's hundred follows scores or 144, 142 and 92 this series, and has now posted eight consecutive scores of 50 or more in Ashes cricket, to break the record of seven, which he set and held.
During his innings, Smith leapfrogged the likes of Neil Harvey, Graham Gooch, Ricky Ponting, Alastair Cook and Mark Taylor to reach 2500 runs in Ashes Tests.
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia won by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: Match drawn at Lord's
Third Test: England won by one wicket at Headingley
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval