New batting position, same old Steve Smith.
Australia’s golden boy has now taken his run-making roadshow overseas, scoring the fifth century in his past six Tests on day one of the second Test against the West Indies in Jamaica.
At stumps on the opening day, Australia recovered from a precarious 2-16 after being sent in by the hosts to reach 4-258 at Sabina Park.
Smith, who began his innings in the first over of the day, was unbeaten on 135 at the end of play.
It means since the start of Australia’s Test summer against India in December, Smith has scored 934 runs at 133.42 including five tons and two 50s.
In Australia’s final Test before the Ashes campaign, it was reassuring to see the 26-year-old’s elevation to first drop did not have any impact on his form.
Smith said despite having to start so early in the day, his new position doesn’t mean a change to the philosophies which have made him the key component in Australia’s batting line-up.
“Sometimes guys are going to miss out and I could be in on the first ball (of a Test),” Smith said.
“I’ve got my head around that. I know what I need to do, if I get out there, and I guess that’s do what I did today.
“Give myself a chance, be patient, watch the ball closely and try to build an innings and it worked out well today.”
Smith and Australia were helped by some bizarre captaincy by Windies skipper Denesh Ramdin.
The Windies appeared on a hiding to nothing when it was revealed pre-game veteran batsman Marlon Samuels (conjunctivitis), paceman Shannon Gabriel (ill) and leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo (bruised finger), were all out of the game.
That didn’t stop Ramdin throwing the Australians in after winning the toss.
His decision seemed justified when Jamaican quick Jerome Taylor (3-18) bowled five straight maidens from the Michael Holding End, picking up the wickets of David Warner (0) and Shaun Marsh (11) in the process.
Two early wickets nearly became three when Michael Clarke was caught and bowled by Kemar Roach (0-65) only for the Australian captain to be given a reprieve when replays showed Roach had overstepped.
And from there it was one-way traffic.
Smith and Clarke added 118 for the third wicket as Taylor oddly only bowled one more over before the lunch break.
Clarke would eventually fall to Jason Holder (1-47) for 47 but two more solid partnerships involving Smith, with Adam Voges (37) and Shane Watson (20no), put the Windies to the sword.
Smith was twice lucky on 109, dropped off the bowling of part-timer Kraigg Brathwaite (0-39), and then successfully reviewing an LBW decision.
A stumping appeal off the last ball of the day also fell Smith’s way, showing when you’re hot, you’re hot.
Smith said the Windies decision to limit Taylor’s overs – he only bowled 15 for the day – and then reject the chance to take the new ball at the end of the day had been puzzling.
“I actually thought he might have bowled a few more to start with,” Smith said of Taylor.
“He only bowled five overs in his spell and he had two for nought. I was a little bit surprised with that and I was very surprised they didn’t take the new ball at the end tonight.
“Worked out well for us I guess.”
MOST TEST HUNDREDS AT 26 BY AUSTRALIANS
15 – Don Bradman, Neil Harvey
9 – Allan Border, Greg Chappell, Steve Smith, Ricky Ponting
8 – Doug Walters