Australia's Steve Smith celebrates his century on the opening day of the first Ashes cricket Test match between England and Australia at Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England on August 1, 2019. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)
Australia's Steve Smith celebrates his century on the opening day of the first Ashes cricket Test match between England and Australia at Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England on August 1, 2019. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP) LINDSEY PARNABY

Magnificent Smith gives us all reasons to smile, and forgive

HOW good is Steve Smith?

I went to bed last night when the great man was sitting just shy of his half-century, and even then I thought he had done enough to earn a pass mark in what was otherwise a very forgettable start to the Aussie Ashes campaign.

LAST YEAR: SANDPAPERGATE 'A CRICKET FAN'S WORST NIGHTMARE'

Like most of us, I was astounded when I woke to the news that the often praised, once disgraced former skipper had belted his way to 144 - maybe his greatest innings of Test cricket yet.

Smith has displayed this kind of awe-inspiring toughness before - his century in Brisbane during the 2017 Ashes series took about eight hours of tough batting - but not against this kind of adversity.

Even without Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes ran rampant on their home turf.

And don't forget the hostile English crowd or the awful umpiring.

Steve Smith was imperious with the bat on his return to Test cricket. (Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Steve Smith was imperious with the bat on his return to Test cricket. (Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images) Ryan Pierse

He may not have even won us the match but Smith's knock simply must go down as one of the best performances in the history of cricket.

And for those who aren't happy to see Smith praised this soon after Sandpapergate, it's time to grow up.

Many athletes have been accepted back into the fold after accruing rap sheets way worse than his. Everyone deserves a shot at redemption.

Steve Smith has given everything to right his wrong both on and off the pitch and for that, above all else, he should be celebrated.