Steve Smith Swatting Beach Ball For Four Was A Very Beautiful Thing

Like everything that comes off his bat, it was effortless.

As he always does, the world's best Test batsman Steve Smith made it look so sublimely easy as he paddled yet another ball around his legs to the boundary on day one of the Fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford.

But this was no rock-hard, cherry-red orb flung down in fury at 150 km/h by a fearsome England fast bowler.

As you can see in the video above, it was a beach ball. Yes, a humble blue-and-white blow-up bubble which bobbled its way across Old Trafford in the strong winds right into Steve Smith's path.

Without hesitation, Smith helped it on its way to the rope, while the England fielders looked on helplessly.

Former Aussie captain Ricky Ponting called it perfectly in commentary: "It's probably fair to say this is how Steve Smith's been seeing the ball the last couple of years," he deadpanned.

He was right. The 30-year-old has indeed been making Ashes cricket look as easy as beach cricket this series -- give or take a knock to the head.

And so it proved again overnight, as he made an assured 60 not out, wearing stem guards for the first time to protect the area Jofra Archer struck in the Lord' Test.

READ MORE: Steve Smith's Brilliant Response When Asked If He's Scared Of Jofra Archer

This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

READ MORE: Rain, Wind Play Havoc On Day One Of Fourth Ashes Test

Australia reached 3/170 at the close of play, off just 44 overs on a rain-affected day. Marnus Labuschagne was the other significant contributor for the Aussies, making 67.

Smith and Labuschagne have been Australia's two best batsmen this series, yet this was the first time they had batted together in international cricket.

Mixed weather and cool temperatures in the mid-teens are again expected for tonight's play.