Perth - Rivals and team-mates alike were left in awe of
Steve Smith after the world's top-ranked Test batsman hit new heights in the
third Ashes match against England at the WACA ground on Saturday.
The Australian captain reached his highest Test score yet
with his second double-century, passed 1 000 Test runs for the year and also
notched his fastest Test century in an innings that appeared to shatter
At stumps, Smith was on 229 not out, having faced 390 balls,
hitting 28 fours and one six as his stellar year continued.
It was his second century of the series and he didn't offer
a single chance throughout.
The closest England came to seeing the back of the star
right-hander were two unsuccessful third-umpire reviews after having leg before
wicket appeals turned down.
English assistant coach Paul Farbrace said their best plans
for the unorthodox Smith weren't troubling him.
"Every team will talk about where to bowl to him,"
"But the way he is playing at the moment, he gets into
some awkward positions but he gets his head back into the ball and keeps the
bat face open.
"He hits the ball from what seems likes strange
positions, but he hits the middle of the bat on a consistent basis.
"We've tried all sorts, we've thought about our plans
to him for some time, but we've come up against a player in the form of his
life playing absolutely fantastically."
Aged 28, Smith already has 22 centuries to his name from 107
Only Don Bradman (58 innings) and Sunil Gavaskar (101
innings) have reached 22 Test centuries in fewer innings.
His current Test batting average is also second only to the
Smith and recalled all-rounder Mitchell Marsh carried the
home side past the English first innings total Saturday with an unbroken
301-run fifth-wicket partnership.
Resuming on 92 at the start of play, Smith wasted little
time raising century, reaching the mark from 138 balls - his fastest Test
century in terms of balls faced.
Smith reached 200 by working Moeen Ali through mid-wicket
for another single, having faced 301 balls.
Marsh said Smith had an aura about him and he had sympathy
for England's predicament.
"I have felt what it's like, captained against him when
he played for New South Wales a couple of months ago," he said.
"You come up with all these plans and none of them seem
"He is a special player."