Brilliant ton forces Smith to re-think favourite centuries
A century on day one of the Ashes at Edgbaston has shot straight to the top of the best hundreds of Steve Smith's career
Sam Ferris at Edgbaston
2 August 2019, 10:08 AM AEST
After Thursday’s epic hundred in Birmingham, Steve Smith might have to update a list of his best Test centuries originally compiled in December 2017.
In his first Test innings back after serving his suspension for the events of Cape Town 16 months ago, Smith defied a rampant England attack to post 144 and, with tailenders Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon as allies, resurrect Australia's innings from the brink at 8-122 to 284 all out.
When Smith reached his 24th Test century in the evening at Edgbaston, emotions spilled over as his teammates went "berserk" on the dressing room balcony. In the stands, Australian fans and his family stood and applauded while the local supporters' boos and taunts fell on deaf ears.
"I think it has got to be one of my best hundreds, definitely," Smith told reporters on Thursday.
"First Ashes Test match, the ball was doing a fair bit out in the morning so I had to work really hard.
"I got beaten a few times but I just had to let that go and concentrated on the next ball and kept digging in.
"I know that the first Test of an Ashes series is always big.
"I didn’t want to give my wicket up easily, I wanted to keep fighting and fortunately I was able to dig in today and get ourselves to a reasonable total.
"Peter Siddle did a magnificent job, that partnership (worth 88 runs) we were able to form and Nathan Lyon as well (74 runs for the 10th wicket) he was magnificent.
"He (Lyon) actually said to me that’s the most nervous I’ve ever been out in the middle batting so to be able to get to my hundred and give him a really big hug and let all my emotions out that was really special."
Smith, who now has 24 Test hundreds in just 118 innings, had previously rated his 100 against South Africa in Centurion in 2014, the 109 he made on a raging turner of a pitch in Pune in 2017 and his unbeaten 141 at the Gabba later that year against England, which was scored in similar circumstances, as his top three centuries in the Baggy Green.
But the way he halted England's momentum, farmed the strike with the tail superbly and cut loose as stumps approached had England paceman and fierce Ashes rival Stuart Broad impressed.
"He's fantastic, I mean look at his record – what does he average, nearly 60 doesn't he?" Broad said.
"You’ve' got to make those first 20 balls at him count, and I think we bowled really well at him for a period of time but he's arguably the best batter in the world at batting with the tail.
"He finds boundaries, he manoeuvres twos, he finds awkward gaps and seems to score runs without taking too many risks.
"So for us to win this Ashes series, we're going to have to get him out early.
"And hopefully a little bit more pace and bounce in the pitches."
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), Moeen Ali, Jimmy Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.
Tour match: Australians v Worcestershire, August 7-9
Second Test: August 14-18,Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval