Sydney - Steve
Smith's heroic century against England was hailed as one of the
all-time great Ashes hundreds on Friday by a gleeful Australian media who
declared he had "come in from the cold" after his ball-tampering ban.
The former captain, playing his first Test since a year-long
suspension left him shamed and humiliated, smashed a superb 144 to
rescue his team on the opening day of the first Test at Edgbaston.
He won plaudits not only for the masterful knock as wickets tumbled
around him, but for doing so against a barrage of boos by a partisan
crowd keen to remind him of the 'Sandpapergate' scandal in South Africa.
Some English fans even donned masks of Smith depicting him breaking
down in tears last year, while others chanted, "We saw you cry on the
"When Australians woke up this morning, eager to check the news from
the evening, they heard of the ultimate redemption story," broadcaster
Channel Nine, which is airing the Ashes Tests in Australia, said on its
"Of an ex-captain who had to fight to regain the trust of his
team-mates and the Australian public, and of an ex-captain who proved
that true legends of the game may falter, but never truly fall."
The Sydney Morning Herald said that despite all the upheaval and
turnover in Australian cricket since Smith last padded up in a Test
match 17 months ago, "some things never change".
"The former captain no longer leads this team in name but he is once
again its backbone," it said after his 24th Test ton. "He has been
through a lot and this had been a long time coming."
Australian's cricket writer Peter Lalor wrote that it was "like he never
left" and "it made you wonder how the team ever coped without him".
Lalor said he had gone "some way to leaving the past behind with the
magnificent innings", while the Melbourne Herald Sun was more emphatic,
declaring he was "back in from the cold".
"Steve Smith scored one of the all-time great Ashes hundreds and
totally embarrassed England with a day one performance at Edgbaston that
has been immediately added to Test folklore," the tabloid wrote.
"His passion is well and truly back and all of Australia are better for it."
Even sections of the English media recognised the achievement, with
The Guardian saying: "Steve Smith enters as the pantomime villain, but
departs a hero.
"The Australian batsman was booed on his way to the crease, but 144
runs later left to applause from all around the ground," it noted.
Australia had slumped to 17-2 when Smith came to the crease after skipper Tim Paine won the toss.
Wickets fell steadily but he found the ally he needed in Peter
Siddle, who made a valuable 44 - the second-best score of the innings - in a ninth-wicket partnership of 88 to help steer them to 284 all