Australia star batsman Steve Smith marked his return to international cricket with a third hundred of the Ashes series as he reached three figures on the second day of the fourth Test against England at Old Trafford on Thursday.
Smith had missed England's dramatic one-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley after being ruled out with a concussion suffered when he was hit by a Jofra Archer bouncer during the drawn second match at Lord's.
The 30-year-old Smith, back on top of the ICC's Test batting rankings, resumed Thursday on his overnight score of 60 not but was dropped on 65 when Archer failed to hold a caught and bowled chance.
Having already extended his Ashes record of eight successive fifties, he hoisted his 26th Test century in 160 balls, including 11 fours, with a whipped two through square leg off Craig Overton.
This was former Australia captain Smith's third century of an Ashes where his lowest scores is the 92 he made after being felled by Archer at Lord's.
Smith scored 144 and 142 in Australia's 251-run win in the series opener at Edgbaston -- his first Test since completing a 12-month ban for ball-tampering.
The five-match contest is currently level at 1-1, with holders Australia looking to win their first Ashes series in England for 18 years.
Smith demands RESPECT
Steve Smith did not touch the sandpaper, he took the fall for others stupidity and actions. Courage & resilience to come back from a year of penance, then concussion, to face Pace and hostility & make another ashes century, has to be shown full respect. #legendary
— Brad Hogg (@Brad_Hogg) September 5, 2019
Smith gets another century. He’s been reeling these off with such high frequency that it’s news when he doesn’t score a ton! Phenomenon🙏 — Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) September 5, 2019
Some player Steve Smith. Yet another stealth hundred from a hugely efficient run scoring machine. Scarcely a move out of place or a memorable shot. Just relentless.
— mike selvey (@selvecricket) September 5, 2019
We are witnessing greatness
He's quirky but which genius isn't. And he is possessed of a very strong temperament. What a player, @stevesmith49 is. Absolute champion.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) September 5, 2019
In an elite company
Just for the big guns, this list... 3+ hundreds in a single Test series Bradman 5 times Sobers 5 STEVE SMITH 4 Kallis 4 Gavaskar 3 Harvey 3 Hayden 3 Lara 3#Ashes — Adam Burnett (@AdamBurnett09) September 5, 2019
With inputs from AFP