Steve Smith stared down a depleted England attack and a hostile Edgbaston crowd as his superb century single-handedly rescued Australia on the opening day of the 2019 Ashes.

The first Specsavers Test would have kicked off with England seemingly well in the box seat had Smith not hit a brilliant 144, more than half of his team's 284 all out and a distant dream after they limped to 122 for eight.

Sixteen months after watching their careers collapse in disgrace following the sandpaper scandal, Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft all returned to boos, jeers and brickbats from the notoriously raucous Birmingham crowd, but while the latter pair faltered Smith flourished.

England had one hand tied behind their back from the moment record wicket-taker James Anderson was struck down by a right calf injury that restricted him to one four-over spell, and he faces an uncertain future in the match and the series.

But in his absence Stuart Broad stood tall, claiming five for 86 to reach 100 Ashes scalps, while Chris Woakes added three for 58.

Both hauls would have been prettier still had Smith not coaxed stands worth 162 out of tailenders Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon.

Joy, relief and bloody-mindedness were etched across Smith's face as he celebrated his 24th Test hundred, and a ninth against England, before he cut loose late in the day to punish a tiring attack.

After he was finally toppled by Broad, Rory Burns and Jason Roy were left to face two awkward overs at the close but held their nerve to reach 10 without loss.

Jos Buttler, who took the final wicket of Siddle, told Sky Sports: "It was frustrating in the end. I think we bowled fanatically well. That partnership between Siddle and Smith, it was frustrating that we couldn't break it earlier.

On Smith's innings, Buttler added: "He played a fantastic innings. Do you put everyone back and suck it up, but you have got to try and find a way of keeping the dismissal in the game as well. But we never quite got enough balls at numbers 10 and 11 at one go.

"I thought we bowled fantastically well this morning, going a bowler down was tricky for the guys to keep going. But it was an exceptional innings from Smith and we will see what kind of score that is tomorrow."