Cricket

Steve Smith century a sign of things to come

Smith was delighted with his ton (©GettyImages)
Smith was delighted with his ton (©GettyImages).

Notching a maiden Test century is a milestone in every cricketer's career. Reaching a first Test ton in an Ashes series makes the achievement even sweeter, but to bring up three figures for the first time in the way Steve Smith did on day two of the fifth Ashes Test was simply exhilarating.

Having already registered his highest-ever Test score on 94 not out, Smith came down the wicket and swung aggressively at the ball, which flew straight into the Oval's lower-tier as Jonathan Trott looked on disconsolately.

Perhaps, as he raised the bat and saluted the crowd, Smith cast his mind back to Australia's tour of India that preceded this Ashes series, when he was selected as 17th man and only made it on the pitch because of the suspensions that hit Shane Watson and Usman Khawaja ahead of the third Test.

In Mohali, Smith fell eight runs short of what would have been his maiden Test hundred, but showed plenty of promising signs which, however, weren't enough to clinch a spot in the original Ashes squad.

After impressing in the tour matches leading up to the opening Test at Trent Bridge, Smith found himself in Australia's lineup as David Warner was exiled to play in South Africa with Australia A after allegedly punching Joe Root in a Birmingham pub.

The 24-year-old has seized his chance with both hands, cutting an increasingly solid figure for Australia at number five and proving a reliable option with the ball in his hand - although admittedly not to the extent many had hoped he would reach when, earlier in his career, Smith was considered Australia's new spin sensation.

Having wasted the opportunity of scoring a century at Old Trafford when a woeful shot brought his innings to an end on 89, in his first innings at the Oval Smith showed admirable composure for a man too often dismissed as a "modern cricketer".

Granted, his technique might, at times, not be rigorously orthodox, but the 24-year-old survived 567 minutes at the crease on his way to becoming Australia's youngest man to notch a ton since a certain Ricky Ponting.

Only Ian Bell, Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers and Shane Watson have scored more runs than Smith in this Ashes series and, between the players wearing the baggy green, only the Australian captain has scored more runs than Smith this year, who averages an excellent 41.58.

Australia might have lost the series empathically, but they have unearthed a true gem at number five and, by the time the Brisbane Test begins in November, the eyes of many will be on Smith.

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Topics:
The Ashes
Australia cricket
Cricket

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