Resuming on the overnight score of 85, Smith was quick to get to the first century of this year’s Ashes as he rewrote record books. Although England pacers cleaned up Australia’s tail for 77 runs, Smith’s hundred ensured an imposing total on an under-pressure hosts, who currently trail the 5-Test series 1-0.
It was Smith’s 12th Ashes century, making him only the second batter behind the great Donald Bradman to score that many tons in cricket’s oldest contest.
He clattered a loose ball through the covers to reach his hundred before raising both hands in the air and looking towards the boundary where his team mates had gathered to celebrate.
Smith’s second century at Lord’s after his match-winning knock here of 215 in 2015 was also one for the stats lovers.
It took him to fourth on the all-time runs list in Ashes cricket with 3,176, overtaking compatriot Steve Waugh (3,173). He is the fourth Australian to pass 9,000 test runs in his career.
His century also made him the fastest batter ever to reach 32 Test hundreds, managing that feat in 174 innings, pipping Ricky Ponting‘s 176 innings and Sachin Tendulkar‘s 179.
As former England batter Alastair Cook put it bluntly to the BBC: “He is a run machine.”
Having reached 110 before mis-hitting the ball to gully for a fine catch by England’s Ben Duckett, Smith trudged slowly and visibly furiously back to the Lord’s pavilion, swishing his bat at imaginary balls and ranting to himself.
But in stark contrast to 2019, when he was booed on his return to the “home of cricket” in the wake of a ban for his part in a ball-tampering scandal, Smith left the field to warm applause from the crowd in appreciation of his achievement.
As commentator Daniel Norcross told the BBC: “He is the scourge of the English. He is the modern-day Bradman.”
(With inputs from Reuters)