18 months after sandpaper scandal, Steve Smith’s ton spoils England’s party and draws a line in the sand
- Steve Smith scored a stunning 144 against England on the first day of the Ashes
- The batsman was sensational in his first Test since serving a 12-month ban
- Smith insists he wasn’t bothered by constant booing from the Edgbaston crowd
- He admits there were times when he didn’t know whether he’d return to cricket
An emotional Steve Smith was almost speechless after marking his first post-sandpaper Test with a brilliant 144 on the first day of the Ashes.
Smith helped Australia recover from 122 for eight to 284 all out, and immediately described his 24th Test hundred as ‘one of my best’ — not least because it was made against a backdrop of constant booing from sections of a packed crowd.
‘That doesn’t bother me,’ he said. ‘I know I have the support of the guys in the room. That’s all that really matters. They went berserk on the balcony. Looking up at them sent shivers down my spine. It’s been a long time coming getting another Test hundred. It was a huge moment.’
Steve Smith acknowledges his Australia team-mates on the balcony after hitting a century
Asked whether his innings finally drew a line under the events at Cape Town in March 2018, when Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft earned their ball-tampering bans, he replied: ‘That’s all in the past now. I’m moving on.
‘I’m just proud to be back here playing for Australia and hopefully contributing to a Test win here. I’m lost for words.’
But he did admit there were moments during his year-long exile when he wondered if his passion for the game had been lost for ever.
‘There were times when I didn’t know if I’d ever play cricket again,’ he said. ‘I lost a little bit of love for it at some point when I had an elbow operation. But it was the day I got my brace off that I rediscovered my love.
Smith showed impressive mental strength to perform in front of a hostile Edgbaston crowd
‘I had to work really hard out there. I got beaten a few times, but I just let that go and concentrated on the next ball, and kept digging in. I know the first Test of an Ashes series is really big, and I didn’t want to give my wicket up easily. I wanted to keep fighting and fortunately I was able to dig in and get ourselves to a reasonable total.’
Smith put on 88 for the ninth wicket with Peter Siddle and another 74 with last man Nathan Lyon. He added: ‘I thought Peter did a magnificent job, that partnership we were able to form, and Nathan as well, he was magnificent.
‘He actually said to me, ‘That’s the most nervous I’ve ever been out in the middle batting’. To be able to get to my hundred and give him a really big hug and let all my emotions out was pretty special.’