Ashes 2019: After stunning Test comeback, Steve Smith reveals he considered not playing cricket again
Steve Smith scored a brilliant 144 on his Test comeback. © AFP

Former Australia captain Steve Smith has opened up on the doubts he had during the 12 months he was banned from international cricket, after scoring a remarkable 144 on his comeback to the Test team on Thursday at Edgbaston.

On day one of the first Ashes Test against England, Australia were 122/8 but thanks largely to Smith, with help from tailenders Peter Siddle (44) and Nathan Lyon (12*), the visitors finished with 284.

Smith rated his 24th Test century as one of his greatest innings, “definitely”, and then revealed that he had considered the possibility that he would never play cricket again as he served his year-long ban for ball-tampering in South Africa last year.

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Those doubts came during the time he was sidelined following elbow surgery after he suffered ligament damage during the Bangladesh Premier League in January, which Smith feared could ruin his chances of returning for the World Cup and the Ashes.

“There were times throughout the last fifteen months where I didn’t know if I was ever going to play cricket again,” Smith said after stumps on Thursday. “I lost a bit of love for it at one point, particularly when I had my elbow operation.

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“It was really bizarre, it was the day I got the brace off my elbow (in early March) I found a love for it again. I don’t know what it was, it was like a trigger that said ‘I’m ready to go again, I want to play’. And I wanted to go out and play for Australia and make people proud, and do what I love doing.

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Steve Smith scored a century on his Test comeback. @AFP

“I have never had those feelings before. I didn’t have a great sort of love for the game, and it was there for a little while. Fortunately, that love has come back. I’m really grateful to be in this position, playing for Australia again and doing what I love.”

On day one of the 2019 Ashes opener, Smith scored more than half of Australia’s first-innings total to give the team a shot at beating England. Having been booed regularly during the World Cup, the 30-year-old was again at the receiving ends of jeers from some of the England supporters at Edgbaston.

However, Smith said it did not faze him, and that seeing his Australian team-mates go “berserk” as soon as he drove Ben Stokes into the covers for the four that raised his 24th Test hundred made him happier.

“It doesn’t bother me to be perfectly honest,” said Smith of the boos from English fans. “I know I have the support of the guys in the (dressing) room. For me, that’s all that really matters. They went berserk on the balcony when I got to 100 and looking up at them, it really sent shivers down my spine.

“It’s great to have some Aussie support over here. I just saw the boys going berserk on the balcony which was a huge moment and I’m sort of lost for words to be honest.”