144 (219) v ENGLAND, Birmingham 2019
The situation: Entered at 2-17 on the first morning, and was 42 (110) when the side slumped to 8-122.
The attack: Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Joe Denly (didn’t face James Anderson).
In terms of back-against-the-wall type of innings, this is easily number one.
The situation he faced was a 10 for difficulty: A strong attack (albeit down their best bowler) in foreign conditions, the moving ball, a hostile crowd, his first Test in 16 months.
What occurred was nothing short of a master-class.
“Once he settled there was barely a moment when he did not look in control despite the many problems of his team-mates,” wrote Cricinfo’s Andrew McGlashan.
Smith was given out LBW on 34 when he didn’t offer a shot to Ben Stokes, but his judgment was so spot on, a successful review allowed him to carry on.
The emotions came flooding out as he celebrated then tried to compose himself with a few deep breaths and a look to the sky, taking in the applause along with a few remaining and largely foolish-sounding boos.” McGlashan wrote.
If that wasn’t enough, Smith returned in the second innings and scored another 142 – the first time he had tonned up in both innings of a Test.
Hard to find reasons this wasn’t his best innings.
109 (202) v INDIA, Pune 2017
The situation: Entered at 1-10 in the third innings with Australia holding a lead of 165 runs in the first Test of the series.
The attack: Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma
Like so many of Smith’s other great innings, this one came in the first Test of the series.
In the preceding summer, he had been given out LBW to South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj while advancing down the wicket, and so had become far less willing to step out of his crease against spin.
The innings showed his supreme flexibility as a batsman.
“With Ravindra Jadeja continually beating me on the outside edge, I just took my ego out of play and kept playing for that straight one, confident that if it spun it was going to go so far it would beat the edge,” Smith said afterwards.
“Just let the facts sink in: this is a second-innings hundred on a rank turner in India against the two best bowlers in the world,” wrote Sidharth Monga for Cricinfo.
He helped set up Australia’s first win in India for 13 years, which included three unsuccessful tours in between.
100 (213) v SOUTH AFRICA, Centurion 2014
The situation: Entered at 4-98 on the first day of the first Test of the series.
The attack: Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, Ryan McLaren, Robin Peterson, JP Duminy
Still new to the scene and fresh off an Ashes victory, Smith had to take down the world’s best on his way to his fourth Test century.
Australia were sent in by Graeme Smith on the first morning of the series and it was looking like the right call when the visitors were 4-76 as Smith arrived at the crease.
The pair batted the remainder of the day and even though the rookie batsman spent an hour in the 90s, his eventual ton set up a huge Australian victory.
Smith himself rated it as one of his top three hundreds when asked in Decmeber 2017.
Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel are three are very good bowlers and away from home on quite a bouncy track they were a hard task to say the least,” Smith said.
“I was really disciplined, left really well, hit the bad balls and rotated the strike well.
“I was in the zone but I was still finding my way as an international batsman.”
141* (326) v ENGLAND, Brisbane 2017
The situation: Entered at 2-30 and helped recover Australia from 4-76 and 7-209 chasing England’s first innings 302.
The attack: James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Jake Ball, Joe Root
In the opening Test of a massive home Ashes series, England had the upper hand at several times during Australia’s first innings.
But the one player to denied them a first-innings advantage was Smith, who scored his 21st and slowest Test hundred.
Although not as brisk as his usual self, Smith’s ‘in control’ percentage was a staggering 91%, according to Cricinfo.
The innings would set the tone for the series and England would not be able to shift the momentum thereafter, as Australia would win the match and the series.
“When you look at the way he went about it yesterday, he was just completely unflappable,” Ricky Ponting said.
“He didn’t get out of his bubble at all, through the course of that innings, which says a lot about him.”
119 (218) v SRI LANKA, Colombo 2016
The situation: Entered at 1-21 chasing Sri Lanka’s first innings 355. Had averaged 30 in the first two Tests of the series.
The attack: Dilruwan Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Rangana Herath, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Angelo Mathews
Smith’s ‘weakness’ to left arm spin have been raised plenty this week and this series is one of the reasons why. In the first two Tests of this series, he’d averaged only 30, falling to Herath three times in four innings.
This was Smith’s 15th Test hundred but his first in Asia and it came against a very strong spin line-up, which included one of the finest left-arm orthodox bowlers ever.
Smith combined with Shaun Marsh for a 246-run partnership, which were Australia’s only centuries for the entire three-Test series.
“The ball still turned, but Marsh and Smith handled it with aplomb, using their feet, finding the gaps, showing patience and respect,” wrote Brydon Coverdale of Cricinfo.
199 (361) v WEST INDIES, Kingston 2015
The situation: Entered at 1-0 in the first over of the Test and from 2-16 got Australia to 399.
The attack: Jerome Taylor, Kemar Roach, Jason Holder, Veersammy Permaul, Kraig Brathwaite.
Smith was the only centurion for the match and fell agonisingly short of what would’ve been his first Test double.
The fact he nearly scored 200 and that no other player managed more than 82 highlighted he’d reached another level – it was also his fifth hundred in his last six Tests.
He was dropped twice by the Windies, but both times came after he’d passed 100.
ALL THE OTHERS
138* (241) v England, The Oval 2013
111 (208) v England, Perth 2013
115 (154) v England, Sydney 2013
162* (231) v India, Adelaide 2014
133 (191) v India, Brisbane 2014
192 (305) v India, Melbourne, 2014
117 (208) v India, Sydney, 2014
215 (346) v England, Lord’s 2015
143 (252) v England, The Oval 2015
138 (185) v New Zealand, Perth 2015
134* (177) v West Indies, Melbourne 2015
138 (241) v New Zealand, Christchurch 2016
130 (222) v Pakistan, Brisbane 2016
165* (246) v Pakistan, Melbourne 2016
178* (361) v India, Ranchi 2017
111 (173) v India, Dharamsala 2017
239 (399) v England, Perth 2017
102* (275) v England, Melbourne 2017
142 (207) v England, Birmingham 2019