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Enter Steve Smith, and the beginning of the match within the match

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Late on Saturday afternoon at Edgbaston, Steve Smith was hit on the head by a bouncer from Ben Stokes. Under cricket’s new concussion rule, if Smith was ruled unfit to continue, Australia could make a like-for-like substitution.

Unfortunately, the only qualified candidate is 111 years old and lies in the Centennial Park Cemetery in the southern suburbs of Adelaide.

Steve Smith plays a shot watched by England's Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler.Credit:

Such is Smith’s influence on this Test match, England cannot assume favouritism until he is out. Overnight after a gripping third day’s play, Smith and Travis Head were in occupation and Australia’s lead, with seven wickets in hand, was 34 runs.

Smith’s tally was 46, which made 190 for the match, and rising. He is beginning to cast a Bradman-shaped shadow, which became sixfold under floodlights just before gloom and rain stopped play. The game could not be poised more delicately.

It was not just Smith versus England, of course, during a fluctuating day when the Australians pulled themselves back from the brink.

At noon, England were level with Australia’s first innings and Ben........

© Brisbane Times