Ashes: Stupendous Steve Smith scores century again
Former Australian captain Steven (142) scores his second century in comeback Test to help visitors compile a potentially match-winning lead of 397 on Day Four; England need 385 more to win
Birmingham: Australia's Steven Smith scored his second hundred of his comeback Test when he reached three figures against England in the Ashes opener at Edgbaston yesterday.
Smith made 142 following his 144 in the first innings of the match — the former Australia captain's first Test since the end of a 12-month ban for his role in last year's ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Ashes-holders Australia, bidding to win their first Test series away to England in 18 years, declared their second innings at 487-7 — 397 runs ahead. The hosts were 13 for no loss at the end of the fourth day.
Smith is now just the fifth Australia batsman to have made hundreds in both innings of an Ashes Test, following Warren Bardsley (1909), Arthur Morris (1946-47), Steve Waugh (1997) and Matthew Hayden (2002-03). He celebrated by removing his batting helmet and waving his bat joyously towards the Australia changing room. And while there was applause from a packed crowd, there were also renewed chants of “Crying on the telly, we saw you crying on the telly” in a reference to the emotional press conference Smith gave in Sydney after he was sent home from South Africa.
It was the first time Smith had scored hundreds in both innings of a Test match, with the 30-year-old only the second player to achieve the feat in a Test at Birmingham's Edgbaston ground after England's Marcus Trescothick (105 and 107 against the WI in 2004).
Smith, since the Oval in 2015, has scored more than 1,000 runs in 10 Ashes innings. “When he goes out to bat, it's almost like he's in a trance-like state,” former Australia captain Waugh told Channel Nine. “He knows exactly what he's trying to do, exactly what the opposition are trying to do...he analyses every ball and it's like a computer, he spits out the answer,” added Waugh, now a mentor to the Australia squad.
The match at Edgbaston has also seen the return to Test cricket of Australia's David Warner and Cameron Bancroft who, like Smith, both received lengthy bans for their parts in the ball-tampering incident that took place during a Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
When Smith, long one of the world's leading batsmen, completed his latest century — his 25th in 65 Tests — Australia were 236-4 in their second innings. That gave them a significant lead of 146 runs. Only three times have a side made more than 150 in the fourth innings to win a Test at Edgbaston, with the highest such total South Africa's 283-5 in a five-wicket win 11 years ago — the last time England lost at the ground. Ashes-holders Australia are looking to win their first Test series away to England since 2001.
Warner empties pockets over booing
Birmingham: Australia opener David Warner has won the Edgbaston crowd during the first Ashes Test against England. After he was booed by the spectators, Warner replied with a smile and in an entertaining manner. Warner was playing his first Test after serving a one-year ban following the sandpapergate in Cape Town last year. The opener was fielding in front of the Hollies Stand on Saturday when the crowd started shouting: “He's got sandpaper in his hands!” Warner also acknowledged the crowd by opening both his palms to show that there was nothing in his hands before emptying his pockets too, following which the crowd gave him a loud and heartfelt round of applause.
Australia 284 & 487-7 decl (S Smith 142, M Wade 110; B Stokes 3-85) v England 374 & 13 for no loss
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England v Australia, Day 5: Sony Six, 15:30
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