Steve Smith's century leads Australia fightback
Normal service resumes as the home side seek 5-0 Ashes whitewash against faltering England
Steve Smith entered Sydney Cricket Ground folklore on Friday with a career defining test century to wrestle back control on the first day of the fifth Ashes test against England.
Smith's 115 came off 142 balls and included 16 boundaries and a six over mid-wicket off debutant spinner Scott Borthwick to move to 99, followed by a four in the same over to reach the milestone.
"It's my favourite place to play so I'm absolutely delighted to have got a hundred out here in tough circumstances and get the team in a good position," said Smith, who has made two centuries this series after his maiden test ton in the Ashes series in England last year.
"I haven't played with too many nerves in this series. I've felt quite good every time I've gone to the crease and obviously I haven't converted into big scores as much as I would have liked, but I've certainly felt good at the crease and today I guess was my day."
Smith's innings was ended by Ben Stokes (6-99) when he teased Smith into driving straight to substitute fielder Joe Root at mid-on.
Smith shared a 128-run partnership with Brad Haddin (75) to take Australia to 326 all out after the hosts had slumped to 97 for five shortly after lunch and swung the game heavily back into Australia's favour as they seek a 5-0 series whitewash which will lift them above England in the world rankings.
England ended the day on eight for one in their first innings.
Haddin, 36, had to wait until Adam Gilchrist retired in 2008 to make his test debut at the age of 30 and it has hardly been plain sailing since.
He walked away from test cricket to be with his daughter Mia as she battled cancer two years ago. Haddin showed great resilience to win back his place in the test side this year before embarking on his fourth Ashes series still looking for his first triumph.
Having been through three successive Ashes series defeats, there is no doubt at all that he is thoroughly enjoying Australia being on top against their oldest rivals.
"I think Brad enjoys getting into a little bit of banter on the field and he certainly thrives when the England players are coming at him and he's done it beautifully all series," Smith added.
"It's always tough to bowl at someone when he's coming at you the way he is and the way he's striking the ball this whole series, they don't really know where to bowl."
Associated Press, Reuters