Steve Smith, playing his first Test in over a year, hit his 24th Test hundred to save Australia from being bundled out cheaply on the first day of the opening Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes were exceptional during the first two sessions as Australia crumbled to 122/8. But with batting supremo Smith present at the crease, Australia battled to 284, before England's openers faced two overs to finish the day on 10/0.
The Test began in dramatic style; David Warner’s first ball-faced saw Jonny Bairstow take a catch down the leg-side off the bowling of Broad, and had England opted for a review, the left-hander would have been sent on his way.
Nonetheless, as fate would have it, Warner was trapped lbw for 2 just over two overs later, his decision not to review a misjudgement as Hawk Eye showed the ball to be going down the leg-side.
Cameron Bancroft, Warner’s opening partner, hit 8 before edging Broad into the safe hands of Root in the slip cordon and Usman Khawaja was Woakes’ first victim of the day to leave Australia looking in trouble at 35/3.
Smith and Travis Head then combined to halt the English momentum, taking Australia to lunch on 83/3. Head, playing his first Ashes Test, looked assured during the course of innings but fell for 35 after the break as Woakes managed to bring the ball back into the left-hander to have him trapped in front of his stumps.
Matthew Wade perished on review not long after to hand Woakes his third before Broad took control. Tim Paine’s pull shot found the safe hands of Rory Burns before James Pattinson was adjudged to be lbw. Ben Stokes joined the party as Cummins left a ball that darted into his pads to leave Australia eight down.
But in Peter Siddle, Smith found a partner willing to grind through the innings. While the former Australia captain tucked away anything on his pads, Siddle was watchful and playing the ball late. The pair frustrated England, who were a bowler down after James Anderson left the field earlier in the day with a tight calf.
Siddle looked set to make his third half-century in Test cricket before he offered a catch to Jos Buttler at short-leg off the bowling of Moeen Ali to depart for 44. It ended a partnership of 88 that helped Australia cross the 200-mark, an impressive accomplishment considering earlier circumstances.
Smith kept his cool to advance to a century and with just a wicket left in the bank, he cut loose with boundary after boundary. Broad collected his fifth wicket to end Smith and Australia's time with the bat, the right-hander finishing on 144 from 219 balls, 16 boundaries to go with his two sixes.
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