Smith revels in ‘dream comeback’ as Australia set up victory push at Edgbaston
Steve Smith celebrated “a dream comeback” after his twin hundreds put Australia in pole position to push for victory on the final day of the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
Smith marked his first Test appearance since the ball-tampering scandal by becoming only the fifth Australian to record centuries in both innings of an Ashes match to leave England battling to avoid defeat.
The former Australia captain followed up a majestic first-innings 144 with 142 on day four in Birmingham, top-scoring in the tourists’ 487 for seven declared as England were set a fanciful 398 victory target.
“I’ve never doubted my ability but it was kind of a dream comeback, to be able to score two hundreds in a match in the first Ashes Test match,” Smith said.
“It’s something I’ve never done in any form of cricket before in my life. It’s incredibly special and special to be able to put us in the position that we’re in now going into day five.
“To have done what I’ve achieved over the last four days and being able to put the team in a really good position going into the last day, I’m over the moon and it’s what dreams are made of.”
He added on Sky Sports: “It feels like Christmas morning every morning getting to come and do this.”
Matthew Wade followed Smith to three figures on Sunday, contributing a Test-best 110 in his first appearance in a Baggy Green in two years.
“I probably never thought I’d be back at this level. To get an opportunity to play the first Test of an Ashes, I’m pretty grateful to be here,” he said.
Wade was at the other end when Smith brought up his 25th Test ton. Asked how it feels to bat alongside Smith, Wade replied: “It’s daunting to be honest.
“Sometimes he makes it look way too easy and it hurts. He said to me at breakfast he’d never scored a hundred in both innings of a Test match and I thought then we were going to be in for something special.”
England openers Rory Burns and Jason Roy negotiated a tricky seven-over spell at the end of the day on a spinning pitch where Nathan Lyon shared the new ball and gained lavish turn from the off.
After closing on 13 without loss, England will look to bat out the entirety of the fifth day for a draw.
That is something they have not done at home since the 2009 Ashes, when a memorable last-wicket alliance between James Anderson and Monty Panesar thwarted Australia.
Anderson is available to bat after sitting out Australia’s second innings with the calf complaint he sustained on the opening morning.
England are clearly hoping to avoid such a scenario, with batting coach Graham Thorpe revealing a number of the World Cup heroes in the side are taking inspiration from their dramatic final triumph over New Zealand last month.
He said: “(Anderson) could still have a role to play. We hope it does not get down to that but it has already been a summer of twists and turns for us as a nation so who knows?
“It is not for us to think too far ahead. Whatever happens during the course of the day we hope the team can show character and skill.
“We are going to need a lot of that because we know it will be a challenge. It is a fifth day pitch and they have a very good spinner in their attack. We have to have the belief we can do it throughout the course of the day.”