sport news MARTIN SAMUEL: Smith is simply remarkable

The Barmy Army have appropriated a Beatles song they use to chirp at Australian captain Steve Smith. It accuses him of cheating, to the tune of With A Little Help From My Friends.

At close of play on Friday, When I'm 64 would have been more appropriate. That was Smith's overnight score, except by the time he at last stopped fidgeting at the crease and vacated the middle, the singing had all but died down. Smith's innings had silenced his detractors and restored Australian confidence. When Smith is on this form, no team can claim to have the advantage in a Test match until they have seen the back of him. And England were not at all close to doing that on day two.

Geoff Boycott, who knows a thing or two about hanging around and annoying the hell out of everybody, said Smith reminded him of Rahul Dravid, the Indian batsman famously known as The Wall. Once Dravid was in, dynamite couldn't get him out and Smith gave off a similar aura on Friday. 

Steve Smith came to the crease and steadied the ship for Australia on day two of the first Test

Steve Smith came to the crease and steadied the ship for Australia on day two of the first Test

Australia were reeling at 76-4, but Smith and Shaun Marsh added 89 for the fifth wicket to leave the game as delicately balanced as it has been since the very first session. A couple of quick wickets on Saturday morning and England will be in the ascendancy again; but this Australian partnership does not appear as prone to sudden collapse as England's middle order. Well, certainly, Smith doesn't. 

Given his unconventional style he must have the finest hand-eye co-ordination of any batsman in the world right now, and the moment he got set the complexion of the match changed. Australia are still 137 runs short of England's first innings total, but this Test has so far lacked a century maker, and Smith appears in the mood to be the first. James Vince's run out on 83 while batting quite superbly looks more significant with each passing moment. Cheap wickets could well decide a very close game.

Smith is a remarkable athlete. If he was a middle distance runner there would be all sorts of rumours such is his level of improvement. In 2010, he came into the Australian team as a leg spinner who batted at number eight; five years later he was acknowledged as the finest Test batsman in the world and two years on, he draws comparisons to Sir Donald Bradman. 

Given his age, 28, and with 20 Test centuries to his name already, Smith still has time to overtake Bradman's mark of 29. He is averaging over 60 in Test cricket, which the great Bill Lawry described as 'Bradman-like' given modern conditions. Certainly Friday's knock had peerless command, perfectly judged, offering no encouragement to England, and settling Australian nerves at a time when the

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