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Smith's comeback century caps off Australia's day
Match Report

Smith's comeback century caps off Australia's day

Steve Smith did not look the least bit bothered in his first Test match after completing a 12-month ban for being the chief instigator in the ball-tampering scandal as he dragged Australia out of deep trouble to headline a terrific fightback on the opening day of the Ashes series at Edgbaston.

Australia were reeling at one stage with just 122 runs on the board and two batsmen remaining in the hut before Smith forged productive partnerships with the tail-enders to lead his team to a respectable total of 284 by the end of the day's play.

England's openers Rory Burns and Jason Roy then saw out the final two overs without any damage to finish at 10-0.

The day, nevertheless, belonged to former skipper Smith, who fought off the tight lines and lengths maintained by the England pacers under overcast conditions and a partisan crowd vociferously mocking the batsman.

Amidst the loud boos that accompanied his fluent innings, Smith brought up the 24th ton of his career, becoming the second-fastest to this landmark after Sir Donald Bradman.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Smith told BBC Radio, as he was overwhelmed by the occasion. "Obviously been a while since I've been able to put on the whites and the baggy green (cap).

"I'm really proud of the way I was able to stand up today. We were in a bit of trouble there and we had to dig deep on a wicket that wasn't easy."

Australia suffered an early slump against the new ball, losing their openers cheaply when Smith walked out into the middle.

The procession of wickets continued in his presence but Smith found an unlikely partner in Peter Siddle, who put in a solid vigil resisting the temptation of a loose stroke and contributed a valuable 44 in the ninth-wicket partnership of 88.

Despite the initial success of the England pacers, they will be worried by the fact their star pacer James Anderson pulled out of bowling after just four overs as he went off the field complaining about a 'tight calf'.

On the other end, Stuart Broad wreaked havoc against the tourists' batting line-up as he registered the 17th five-wicket haul of his career while Chris Woakes chipped in with three wickets on his Warwickshire home ground.

Australia will still be upbeat about their chances of taming the England side that has been prone to batting collapses quite frequently in the conventional five-day format.

Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were expectedly greeted with raucous jeers from fans in the stands - a trend witnessed during the World Cup.

Hostile reception for the returning trio

Opening batsman, Warner found it hard to cope with the tricky angle created by Broad bowling round the wicket as he was trapped lbw in front of the stumps trying to work the ball towards the leg-side.

However, replays suggested the ball had swung too much and would have gone on to miss the stumps leaving an unlucky Warner perplexed.

The celebrations in the aftermath of the Warner wicket quickly turned into prolonged taunts from the crowd with spectators waving strips of sandpaper in the air.

Bancroft, the Australian who was caught on camera trying to apply sandpaper on the ball in the infamous Cape Town Test, soon followed Warner when he edged a well-disguised leg-cutter from Broad to the slip cordon.

Bancroft's dismissal received a similar blend of applause and jeers from the crowd, who then turned their attention to give a hostile reception to Smith coming out to bat.

Smith showcased steady patience in wearing down the shine of the new ball continuing to leave deliveries pitched outside the off-stump.

He redeemed himself while batting on 34 by employing a successful review after being adjudged lbw off a Broad delivery.

Australia skipper Tim Paine's Ashes debut innings on English soil was short-lived as he pulled the ball straight to the man on the boundary line.

Smith finally found the ally he desperately needed in Siddle, who applied himself well at the crease - a sharp contrast from his top-order colleagues.

Smith upped the scoring rate soon, after Siddle's dismissal off the bowling of Moeen Ali, when he reached three figures in 184 balls.

He was the last man to fall in Australia's innings but not before he had piled on ample misery for the England bowlers.