Superb Steve Smith century frustrates England on day one of The Ashes first Test as Australia fight back

Tom Homewood
Assistant Producer

England failed to take advantage of their early dominance on day one of the first Test against their oldest rivals Australia at Edgbaston on Thursday.

Hosting the Ashes for the first time since 2015 when England won the five Test series 3-2, England couldn’t find the breakthrough when they really needed it and the Australian former captain Steve Smith made them pay.

Playing in his first Test match since March 2018, when he was banned for ball tampering against South Africa, Smith looked like he’d never been away.

Winning the toss and choosing to bat first proved an unwise decision for the reigning Ashes champions, Australia, as they slumped to 35-3.

David Warner and Cameron Bancroft opened up and both fell early to Stuart Broad, before Chris Woakes removed Usman Khawaja.

Smith and Travis Head got them up to 83-3 before lunch, but there was some bad news for England as Jimmy Anderson went to hospital for a scan on a ‘tight’ calf.

After the interval Woakes got the better of Head and then Wade, before Broad added two more wickets to his tally. Smith reached his 50 before tea as Australia, digging in, made their way to 154-8.

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Smith continued to steady the ship and along with Peter Siddle continued to frustrate England after Tea. The pair putting on Australia’s highest partnership of 88 before Siddle was removed by Moeen Ali.

A superb Smith innings came to an end for 144 when he was bowled by Broad, giving him a five-for, but Smith was the hero of the day.

He lifted Australia to 284, a very competitive total, especially from where they were when the 30-year-old walked out to the middle to bat.

England had two overs to bat at the end of the day and finished on 10-0. A truly enthralling start to this Ashes series, on day one of a potential 25 days of cricket.

England get off to a flier

England celebrate after Broad takes the wicket of Cameron Bancroft (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia captain Tim Paine decided to bat first after winning the toss in cloudy conditions in Birmingham.

Cameron Bancroft and David Warner were welcomed by boos and shouts of ‘cheat’ as the pair walked out to open the batting for the visitors. English fans not letting them forget their role in the sandpaper scandal.

Root decided against an early review against Warner after Broad’s first delivery was caught by Jonny Bairstow and met with appeals from behind. The review would have seen Warner walking back to the pavilion.

A few overs later, and he was walking back anyway. This time Broad rapped him on the pads and he was given out LBW. Warner deciding not to review, but if he had done, he would have been saved.

Australia 2-1 and another long walk for Warner as chants of ‘cheerio’ rang around Edgbaston, while fans in the Hollies Stand waved around pieces of sandpaper.

Warner walks back to the pavilion (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)

Bancroft followed shortly after, edging one to Root at first slip as Broad brought his length back to the Aussie opener.

Boos greeted Bancroft's departure followed by Steve Smith's arrival, with Australia in some trouble on 17-2.

Chris Woakes was bought into the attack replacing England’s all time leading wicket-taker, Jimmy Anderson after a spell of just four overs. He would later go for a scan on his ‘tight’ right calf.

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Usman Khawaja was out for 13 as Australia slumped to 35-3 after tickling an edge through to Bairstow. It wasn’t given by the on field umpire, but after Root reviewed it, Khawaja had to go.

Travis Head was next in and along with Smith, they dug and got the Baggy Greens to 83-3 at lunch.

Woakes stars after lunch

Head was unbeaten on 26, contributing the lion's share of an unbroken 48-run stand alongside Smith, who was on 23 as the pair walked out after lunch.

With Anderson still out of action after the break it was Woakes who opened up with Broad. The pitch looked to be flattening out, but the 30-year-old got one to jag back into Head's pads and he was gone for 35, Australia 99-4.

Broad thought he had England’s fifth with the key wicket of Smith after the former Australian captain was hit on the pads when not offering a shot.

He was given out LBW for 34 after one nipped back, but he reviewed the decision and it was overturned.

Woakes celebrates taking the wicket of Travis Head (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Woakes had two in two overs when he trapped Matthew Wade in front of middle stump and the visitors were five down for 105.

In what continued to be a bad day for the umpires it was originally given not out before England’s review, which left no doubt Wade was a goner.

Broad struck once again with Paine pulling one straight to deep square leg, a simple catch for Rory Burns after a poor shot left Australia once again struggling at 112-6.

Broad threw his hands to his mouth - calling to mind his famous Ashes celebration from 2015.

Broad reacts after taking the wicket of Tim Paine (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

That became 112-7 as Broad took another two balls later, pinning his Nottinghamshire team-mate James Pattinson plumb in front of the stumps for a duck.

Stokes broke up the Broad and Woakes duopoly when he returned to the attack and got the ball reverse swinging.

Pat Cummins didn’t last long under the all-rounder's examination, falling to a fifth LBW of the day, Australia 122-8.

Smith reached his 50 in 119 balls in a determined knock in tough conditions before reaching tea at 66, with Peter Siddle at the other end on 7.

Smith and Siddle frustrate England

After light rain and a 20 minute delay to the start of play after tea, Smith and Siddle continued were they left off, digging in and frustrating England.

Siddle was eventually removed for 44 by Moeen Ali, but the damage of their partnership was already done. They put on 88 together as England failed to take full advantage of the strong position they were in when they had the visitors at 122-8.

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The end of Siddle's rearguard led to a more adventurous approach from Smith, who was starting to become more agricultural with his stroke-making.

Smith deposited Moeen into the stands at deep midwicket, Australia's first six of the day, with a slog sweep, before he reached his century, the 24th time in Tests - and the ninth time against England - with a four through the covers off Stokes.

Smith celebrates his century (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

There were an appreciable amount of cheers along with the boos which greeted Smith reaching his hundred.

Playing in his first Test match since the sandpaper ball tampering scandal, Smith continued to pile on the runs with a more cavalier approach.

Smith cleared the rope for a second time off Broad before being bowled for a stunning 144 by the seamer, who in the process claimed his five-for and his 100th Ashes wicket.

Australia all out for 284.

There were two overs for England to bat at the end of the day with Rory Burns and Jason Roy sent out to see them off.

The hosts ended the day on 8-0 with Burns on four and Roy on six.

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