Steve Smith made a sparkling comeback to Test cricket with two centuries in the Edgbaston Test as Australia won against England. (Image credit: Getty Images)
Steve Smith was facing a hostile comeback to Test cricket after being out of the Australian team for 15 months due to his one-year ban over the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town. Smith faced the wrath of the crowd and was booing him continuously. At 122/8, Smith had his back to the wall but he produced a magnificent knock of 144 as Australia staged a recovery to end on 284. In the second innings, Smith became the fifth Australian to score a century in both innings and the first Aussie since Steve Waugh in 1997 to achieve the feat in England as his 142 laid the path for Nathan Lyon to take 6/49 and help Australia to a 251-run in the Edgbaston Test against England.
Speaking after the match, Australia coach of Justin Langer said Smith's knocks were simply in a different league altogether. "Let's face it; when he (Smith) first came in, the leg-spinner, unorthodox... (everyone thought) 'I'm not sure this kid's going to make it'. Then he goes away (and decides) 'I don't want to be a leg-spinner; I want to be the best batsman in the world'. Then he transforms himself and he is the best batsman in the world with Virat. It's a great credit to him. I said during the summer that Virat Kohli is the best player I have ever seen but that (Smith's knocks) is just another level," Langer said.
Smith faced adverse odds but he came out stronger to help Australia recover and register a win in the opening Ashes Test for the first time since 2001. Langer hailed Smith's mental toughness following the two tons. "You have in different teams, different eras, great players but for someone like Smudge (Smith), who is averaging over 60 and the way he played in this innings with all the pressure and everything that is on him, it was not only great skill but enormous character, enormous courage, very brave, unbelievable concentration, unbelievable physical stamina, unbelievable mental stamina, all traits of great players," Langer said.
The former left-handed opener termed Smith a problem-solver of his team, someone who just loves batting for long hours. "You throw to him in the nets and you literally feel like you can't get him out and there's no batsman like that and you just end up throwing a million balls and you are just lost for answers," Langer said. "I guess you would have to ask England how they feel about that and they had some interesting tactics for him. They had the really short point which I had never seen before, they obviously had a tactic they prepared and Trevor Bayliss has seen a lot of Steve Smith since he was a kid. They would have studied him closely but he just has a knack, well, he is the best problem-solver in the game," Langer added.
The second Ashes Test will begin from August 14 at Lord's and Australia will be determined to continue their good run at the venue in the Ashes, having lost just three Tests in 75 years.