Steve Smith turns jeers to cheers with Australia century
Smith and team-mate David Warner were facing England for the first time since the ball-tampering scandal.
Australia’s Steve Smith was greeted by a mixture of boos and polite applause as he marked his comeback appearance against England with a fine century in the World Cup warm-up match at the Ageas Bowl.
Former captain Smith and team-mate David Warner have recently returned from year-long bans for their roles in the 2018 ball-tampering scandal and the renewal of hostilities with their Ashes rivals brought the expected jeers as they arrived and departed the crease.
The heckling was far from deafening, though, and Smith was even treated to respectful clapping as he brought up his fifty and hundred in the away team’s 297 for seven.
For England the greater concern of the day was an injury scare for Mark Wood, who exited midway through his fourth over and headed for the pavilion with pain in his left foot, joining Eoin Morgan (finger) and Adil Rashid (shoulder) in the treatment room.
Although Wood is the biggest worry, particularly given long-standing problems with his left ankle, there were also dicey moments for Jofra Archer and Liam Dawson.
Archer was due to be rested until he replaced the departing Wood, only to take a knock within moments of entering the fray. He re-emerged later in the innings to dispel concerns but then Dawson was struck on the hand backing up Joe Root’s throw, splitting the skin in his right ring finger. The latter was immediately advised not to bat in the chase.
Amid these various frights there was the unusual sight of England’s assistant coach Paul Collingwood arriving as an emergency fielder wearing Wood’s kit. The former one-day captain, who turns 43 on Sunday, was pressed into service to make up the numbers despite retiring from competitive cricket last September.
Wood made England’s first breakthrough, seeing off Australia skipper Aaron Finch, before exiting in pain. Warner fared better, managing 43 before flapping Liam Plunkett to wide long-on, the first of four wickets for the seamer.
There were boos and heckles for the departing batsman and his replacement, Smith, but the latter continued his rich vein of form since reintegration to the national side.
His previous three innings had yielded 89 not out, 91no and 76 and this time he reached three figures in style, getting there in 94 deliveries and finishing with eight fours and three sixes.
Plunkett’s four for 69 were the pick of the England bowling figures, with one success each for Wood, Tom Curran and Dawson.