BIRMINGHAM – Steve Smith has scored almost half of Australia's runs himself in the first Ashes test at Edgbaston, with how he performs on day four likely to have a big say in who gains the early advantage in the series.
Smith was stripped of the captaincy and handed a 12-month ban by Cricket Australia after team mate Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera attempting to change the condition of the ball with sandpaper during a March 2018 test in South Africa.
Bancroft and David Warner were also banned for their part in the incident and returned to test action on Thursday. While Warner has endured his third-worst return in tests in which he has batted twice, Smith has picked up where he left off.
He rescued his side who were in big trouble at 122-8 in the first innings with his 23rd test ton in just 64 matches and his unbeaten 45 in the second innings dragged his side, 27-2 when he came to the crease, out of the mire again.
"If you could sort out a dodgy breakfast for him that would be great," joked England bowler Chris Woakes, whose side trail Australia by 34 runs.