Gabba hundred one of my best - Smith

Getty Images

Steve Smith rated his Gabba century as one of the best of his career and took a dig at "defensive" England after inspiring Australia to take the upper hand in the first Ashes Test.

Australia were struggling on 209-7 in reply to 302 on day three in Brisbane, but Smith showed remarkable application to steer his side out of trouble with a brilliant unbeaten 141.

Smith faced 326 balls against a probing England attack that was unable to remove the resilient captain, who batted for over eight hours with support from Shaun Marsh (51) and Pat Cummins (42) as Australia recovered to 328 all out.

England were reeling on 33-2 in reply at stumps after Josh Hazlewood (2-11) dismissed Alastair Cook and James Vince, the tourists leading by only seven runs with two days remaining. 

Smith, the top-ranked Test batsman, felt his 21st hundred was extra special given the circumstances.

The prolific skipper said: "It'd be up there, definitely. With the team in a bit of trouble I had to try and bat some time and dig really deep.

"It was nice to put on a few partnerships with Shaun and Patty Cummins at the back end there, I thought he played really well.

"I just had to fight really hard, get through difficult periods and just keep batting. There were some reasonably defensive fields set, so boundaries were quite hard to come by.

"So it was just about getting off strike and waiting for the balls in my areas and being really disciplined, and I thought I did that really well."

Smith questioned England's approach in the field on a day in which they looked set to take a sizeable lead.

He added: "I thought they were pretty defensive from the outset. It was almost as though they were waiting for our batters to make a mistake.

"Unfortunately four [batsmen] ... to get to 4 for 70, made those mistakes. But it felt like it was very defensive. It might be a series where boundaries might be hard to come by, but if you bat for long enough you'll rotate the strike and you'll get bad balls as the bowlers get tired.

"But I thought they were pretty defensive pretty early."