'Different Gravy': Poms Dripping In Praise For The Genius Of Steve Smith
Another Ashes innings, another fighting century for Steve Smith. And now the Aussies have a stranglehold on this match.
Steve Smith and Matthew Wade's centuries against England have put the Aussies in a strong position at stumps on day four of the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
Smith called Australia's day a "dream comeback" and it was exactly that. The tourists could scarcely have hoped for a better day four, after starting at a precarious 3/124 -- with an overall lead of just 34 runs.
But after grafting their way through the first half-hour, runs started to flow for Travis Head (51) and then Smith -- who made 142 to go with his first-innings 144 -- as he became the first Australia player since Steve Waugh to score centuries in two innings of an Ashes series in England.
Matthew Wade then chipped in with a breezy 110 off just 143 balls, to justify his inclusion in the team. Some lusty late hitting from Pat Cummins and James Pattinson, and the job was complete. A match that was England's to win at the start of the day was now firmly in Australia's command.
The hosts will be chasing 385 on the fifth day with 10 wickets in hand after limping to 0/13 at stumps after seven nervous overs.
"I got myself in a nice head space today where I wasn’t really thinking too much other than where the field was, and where they were trying to bowl to," a relaxed and clearly satisfied Smith said after a knock which meant he had scored six centuries in his last 10 Ashes innings.
Meanwhile, England batting coach Graham Thorpe admits watching Steve Smith dominate his side's bowlers revived memories of when Steve Waugh used to torment teams he used to play in.
Thorpe played in the match when Waugh scored 108 and 116 to seal a 268-run victory for his side at Old Trafford in 1997 and admitted seeing the mental fortitude of Smith is reminiscent to the Australian great.
"I played in game when Waugh got two hundreds and altered that Test match," Thorpe said. "They were innings of great skill which Steve Smith’s were as well. That is what you get at this level. In many ways you have to admire it."
Former England cricketer Alex Tudor admired it too. The man who played 10 Tests in the late '90s and early 2000s used the hashtag #differentgravy. We had to Google that one, and discovered it means "a class above".
Which Smith undoubtedly is. And other England cricketers were just as generous.
Some just saw the humour in the situation -- from the point of view of the England skipper trying to set a field to the irrepressible Smith.
The England batting coach now admits it will be a tough challenge to stop Australia taking a 1-0 series lead and winning for the first time in Birmingham since 2001, but said the slow pitch at Edgbaston could work in the batsmen's favour.
"It is a big day for us," Thorpe said. "The pitch I feel has flattened a bit for seamers. It is taking turn.
"Throughout course of match we have had a couple of opportunities to grab the game, but not been able to take them.
"The chat in the dressing room tonight was that our seamers found it harder, the pitch has slowed down for seamers so it is hard work.
"Obviously (Nathan) Lyon will be a threat but the way we are looking at it is putting partnerships together, not looking too far ahead and being confident in our belief we can play the day out and keep intent to score runs as well.
"When trying to play for a draw it is very important you keep the scoreboard ticking over as well."