Smith underlines greatness with Old Trafford double century

Steve Smith is on course to enjoy one of the most productive series by any batsman in Test history after he marked his return to Ashes action with a double hundred at Old Trafford.

The 30-year-old's 211 was the centrepiece of Australia's 497-8 declared on the second day of the fourth Test.

It was his third century in four innings this series following scores of 144 and 142 in the opener at Edgbaston -- Smith's first Test since completing a 12-month ball-tampering ban.

If those hundreds erased doubts about whether he would be the same stellar batsman after the traumatic events during a Test in Cape Town that led to his being stripped of the Australia captaincy and a lengthy suspension, Thursday's innings put to rest fears of any lingering ill-effects after he was concussed by a Jofra Archer bouncer.

That blow to his then unprotected neck -- he is now batting with a 'stem guard' -- during the drawn second Test at Lord's saw Smith ruled out of England's dramatic one-wicket win at Headingley that levelled this Ashes at 1-1 with two to play.

Even after retiring hurt having been felled by Archer, Smith still came back out to make 92 -- his lowest score of a series where he has now scored 589 runs at a colossal average of 147.25.