AFTER his superb pair of centuries in the First Test, all eyes will again by on Steve Smith. KEN PIESSE reports from Lord’s:
“WELCOME to St John’s Wood,” said the announcer at the tube station adjacent to Lord’s. “If you have any idea how to get Steve Smith out, please report to the English dressing rooms.”
Smith’s stunning return to Test cricket has all England on high alert.
So masterful has he been that some are predicting a 900-run Test summer, a feat achieved only twice before in Ashes annals, by iconic pair Walter Hammond in 1928/29 and Don Bradman in 1930.
Billed as the finest since the Don, Smith seems determined to regain his standing as the world’s No.1 batsman by the summer’s end.
Idiosyncrasies aside — he moves 23 times in his address before striking the ball — Smith’s remarkable double in Birmingham won Australia a famous Test match and triggered a debate among purists on where Smith’s twin 100s compared with the most famous Ashes innings of all from Trumper and McCabe to Bradman and Greg Chappell, hero at Lord’s almost 50 years ago.Embed from Getty Images
We all had to await the arrival of the modern-day Bradman as his close mate and captaincy successor Tim Paine elected to send England in, a brave decision given the promise of blue afternoon skies.
Had the Australians been sharper in the field, and taken all the early opportunities, especially Headingley hero Rory Burns when he’d made just 16, Smith and the Australians could well have been batting by tea, so lethal was series debutant Josh Hazlewood.
Operating into a stiff headwind against a mediocre Top Six, Hazlewood made a mockery of his non-selection in the first Test, taking the first three wickets in a masterly display.
A scoreline of 258 all out didn’t seem to be anywhere near enough,
But David Warner tipped one on to his leg bail and Cam Bancroft was all but castled during Jofra Archer’s very first over in Test cricket.
Usman Khawaja somehow survived some high pace from Stuart Broad, as Australia made it to stumps one down….the Smith show to come.
England 258. Burns 53, Bairstow 52, Woakes 32. Cummins 3/63, Hazlewood 3/58, Lyon 3/68.