Proud Smith's double ton puts Aussies in command
Steve Smith spoke of his pride after his brilliant double century put Australia in complete control of the fourth Ashes Test against England at Old Trafford.
Smith struck 211, his third hundred of the series in just his fourth innings, as Australia posted a formidable 497 for eight declared on the second day in Manchester.
Smith's innings showed Australia what they missed in the third Test defeat at Headingley, a match the former captain was forced to miss due to concussion.
"It was a huge moment," said Smith of the moment he reached 200.
"Obviously I'm really proud to score a double hundred for Australia and put us in the position we're in now.
"It's satisfying to get a big score. Obviously it was disappointing to miss the third Test, particularly with the way it finished. It was an amazing Test match and a shame not to be a part of it.
"But I wasn't quite right, wasn't able to play there, the right call was made.
"It gave me time to recover and get my head right after my concussion.
"I felt good coming in to the game and was confident and fortunately I scored some runs and got ourselves in a nice position.
"I've faced a lot of short-pitched bowling in my life and haven't had many issues with it," said Smith.
"For England to be bowling up at my head on day two means they can't get me lbw or caught behind.
"It softens the ball up as well so it played into our hands and enabled us to score some big first innings runs."
For all his excellence, Smith's innings was not chanceless. He was dropped on 65 early on and later had a reprieve on 118 when he was caught off a Jack Leach no-ball.
Smith had been on his way back to the pavilion when he was recalled following a third umpire review.
He said: "Obviously I had some luck. I think you always need some luck when you score big runs. It fell my way today.
"I thought I was out so I was a bit angry with the shot that I played. When I saw the foot over the line and (umpire) Kumar (Dharmasena) called me back I thought, 'How good is this! I get to keep on batting'.
"Obviously I had some luck and I made the most of it from there."
England's reply began badly as they lost Joe Denly, newly promoted to the top of the order, for just four.
That left them 23 for one at stumps.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow said: "Fair play to the way Smith has come out and played.
"He's obviously got the bit between his teeth and is in great form.
"You've got to give him a lot of credit for the way he's applied himself and scored the runs that he has.
"I'm not sure we're the only team around the world who've tried a few different plans (to get him out).
"We'll be sticking to the plans we've got.
"He played and missed at some balls today which we've not seen him play and miss at previously in the series and on another day we get him out slightly earlier," he added.
Bairstow believes England can get themselves back into the game.
"There's three innings still to go in the game," he said.
"There's still three days of cricket left.
"If we can go out and apply ourselves tomorrow, set our stall out to bat for a long period of time like we did at Headingley there's no reason why not," he added.
But England have much work to do to get back into the fourth Test with at least a draw required to give them a chance of winning the Ashes in next week's fifth and final Test at the Kia Oval.
Fourth Test Match
Emirates Old Trafford
Australia 497-8 dec (S P D Smith 211, M Labuschagne 67, T D Paine 58, M A Starc 54 no) v England 23-1
AUSTRALIA FIRST INNINGS
M S Harris lbw b Broad 13
D A Warner c Bairstow b Broad 0
M Labuschagne b Overton 67
S P D Smith c Denly b Root 211
T M Head lbw b Broad 19
M S Wade c Root b Leach 16
T D Paine c Bairstow b Overton 58
P J Cummins c Stokes b Leach 4
M A Starc not out 54
N M Lyon not out 26
Extras b8 lb14 w3 nb4 29
Total 8 wkts dec (126 overs) 497
Fall: 1-1 2-28 3-144 4-183 5-224 6-369 7-387 8-438.
Did Not Bat: J R Hazlewood.
Bowling: Broad 25 -2-97-3, Archer 27- 3-97-0, Stokes 10.5-0-66-0, Leach 26.1-3-83-2, Overton 28-3-85-2, Denly 3-1-8-0, Root 6 -0-39-1
ENGLAND FIRST INNINGS
R J Burns not out 15
J L Denly c Wade b Cummins 4
C Overton not out 3
Total 1 wkt (10 overs) 23
To Bat: J E Root, B A Stokes, J M Bairstow, J C Buttler, J C Archer, S C J Broad, M J Leach.
Bowling: Starc 2-2-0-0, Hazlewood 4-1-3-0, Cummins 3-0-10-1, Lyon 1- 0-10-0.
England trail by 474 runs with 9 wickets remaining