Edgbaston Welcomed Smith & Warner:
What happened almost 15-months earlier in Johannesburg in the lives of Steve Smith, David Warner and Camron Bancroft as cameras found them with the sandpapers being rubbed over the ball to change its perfection and being banned for a year from all forms of the game, was known to all; even to those who hardly follow the game. And when the sentence was over, the last thing they would expect is to take field in an Ashes Test and that too before the rough and noisy Edgbaston crowd.
It doesn’t take too long to feel. When Australia opted to bat first, Warner and Bancroft, both the openers, till then might have got the message of fastening their seatbelts. Although, David Gower on air hoped for some respect from the home crowd for the tourists, I guess, he knew what was to come in the next six weeks. “I think untill we got out there, we didn’t realize how vocal that stand would be.” Painted Siddle in a documentary, “A New Era of Australia Team.”
Colorful sandpapers came out off the pockets in the stands as the opening combo made their way on the strip. Both of then could have drawn a fairy-tale image of scoring big hundreds to shut all the criticism they received. But Cricket is not being scripted according to one’s mind. In just about an hour, the batting side lost their top three with just 35-runs on the board.
Steve Smith Resumes Normal Services:
On the fall of the 2nd wicket, when Steve Smith strolled down to the crease, similar reception welcomed him too. Slowly the wickets started to crumble and when a pull by captain Paine found the throat of the field standing on the fence, it summed up the day; they were cornered at 122-8 even before the series got the real start mentally.
The nervousness was being observed in the Aussies faces as the camera lens found them sitting on the stairs. The only positive, Steve Smith, was still there out in the middle joined by new-man Peter Siddle. They started to build a partnership with the former took a bit of aggressive mode. Blokes, singles, doubles, drives, pulls all remained a bright spot in the innings as Smith reached his fifty but he never gonna happy with that.
Runs were coming; England were trying their best to get rid of the 49no. jersey but not a single plan got the right result. The focus, concentration, commitment all went sky high as the pressure of doing something great was coming down to the wire. But the, the tail-ender got out to short leg ending the 88-run partnership for the 9th wicket. Lyon walked up to the middle with an only aim of getting his NSW mate to a dreamy 100.
“Shut the f*ck up.” Was Smith’s reply when Lyon discussed about scoring 10-20-runs more and got to 250 first. “Let me bat; I will get up to 300.”
The Wait of 15-Months is Over:
A shot over mid-on to Woakes for a boundary followed by a six over the long-off promoted Steve Smith on 98, with a single on the next ball took him to 99. The English army was off in noise, all were standing in the Aussies balcony and a drive through the covers off Broad provided the dream fairy-tale a new life.
“Steve Smith is back.”. described Isha Guha on air. “The normal service resumes.” 20th test century and probably the one and only he had to wait for a long period. Emotions were shinning around him as he bent down on his knees. “It was probably everything: mental, emotional, physical.” The clapping went for on, he finished on 144.
In reply, England post a mountain of 374, a vital lead of 90-runs, thanks to a brilliant hundred from Rory Burns and fifties from Root and Stokes. Although, one thing of the contest was certain; the rough gesture of Barmy Army. Cheat, Cheat and cheat was the background noise in all the 5-days when the Australian side left for the hotel. “They just abuse.”
Well, The Kangaroos still had a long way to run; it’s England’s game till now and again just like the first innings, the destroy arrived in the second innings too. The man came to the rescue when the team was struggling at 75-3. The ball was turning sharp and all the thousands of plans to send Smith early to the pavilion went in vain.
Steve Smith is Still Batting:
The commentators for some fun were asking the fans but they seemed to be clueless too. He was absolutely playing with the field hitting in all the corners of the park. “Steve Smith is still in.” the feel of the words from David Llyod spelled out how frustrated the England supporters were.
Again, without any sweat, he reached on 99. The cameras were getting ready, the crowd was waiting to cheer in alternative modes, the people in the com box were trying to figure out which word would be suitable to describe the right-hander and then Broad, already cooked, bowled a half-volley just to watch it driven by Smith to join an elite list of scoring back-to-back 100s in a same Ashes Test.
With the help of 50 by Head and longer wait for a hundred or probably a test match (6-years) came to wait for Mathew Wade as Australia gave England 398 to chase on a day-5 track.
They had to just hang around, on a pitch that already got detoriated, collected more sun on it; surviving 100-odd overs would be a terrible job and not to think about going for 400. England’s rush of blood helped in the cause too as Nathan Lyon’s 6-fer and the rest by Cummins folded England for just 146. From Vocal to Silence, Steve Smith and Australia had turned the situation on his head, breaching the fortress Edgbaston, winning here since 2001.
For Smith, he had just shifted the focus and the selfies on the roads of London by some of the English fans were one of the powerful statements for that probably. From the peach Dark of Johannesburg to the Sun shining of Edgbaston, Steve Smith is back for normal services.