Australia’s Steve Smith marked his return to Test cricket with a hundred on the opening day of the Ashes series against England at Edgbaston yesterday.
The former captain was playing his first match at this level since completing a 12-month ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.
Australia were struggling at 17-2 when Smith walked into bat after current Captain Tim Paine won the toss.
But Smith, with just last man Nathan Lyon for company, completed his 24th Test century and ninth against England when he cover-drove all-rounder Ben Stokes for his ninth four in 184 balls faced.
Earlier, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes tore through Australia’s batting line-up Smith fighting a lone battle to keep the rampant World Cup winners at bay. England’s performance was especially impressive given James Anderson, their all-time leading Test wicket-taker, bowled just four overs before going for a scan on a right calf injury. Australia struggled to combat the moving ball in English conditions but the true worth of their score will only become apparent when England, shot out for just 85 by Ireland at Lord’s last week, bat.
Dangerous left-handed opener Warner was lbw to Broad for two and did not bother with a review, even though technology suggested the ball would have missed leg stump.
Fellow opener Cameron Bancroft, who was banned along with Smith and Warner after he applied sandpaper to the ball during a Test in Cape Town last year, hit two boundaries but then edged a fine Broad delivery that bounced and cut away to England Captain Root at first slip.
Usman Khawaja then departed for 13, caught behind by wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow off Woakes although, in an innings where the Umpires had several decisions overturned, England needed a review to confirm a dismissal that left Australia 35 for three.