Steve Smith scored a half-century on his return to competitive cricket but the banned former Australia captain has been “hurt” by being unable to aid their cause in a miserable limited-overs tour of England.
Smith, who was stripped of the captaincy and banned for a year in March for his role in the ball-tampering scandal that marred the third Test of Australia’s series in South Africa, made a low-key comeback for the Toronto Nationals in the Global T20 Canada on Thursday.
He scored 61 off 41 balls to help the Nationals to a six-wicket win over the Vancouver Knights but afterwards conceded it has been difficult watching Australia lose all six matches on their tour of England without him.
“I’ve been up and down with my emotions if I’m being honest,” Smith told a media conference. “I’ve had times, particularly watching the boys play in England, and not play as well as they could have and England play extremely well, it was hurting me that I couldn’t go out and help them, help them win games.
“And when they hopped on the plane to go over there I had some emotions that were a bit down. It’s been tough but, you know, I think I needed a break if that makes sense. It’s obviously come under some extraordinary circumstances but I was really mentally fatigued after the Ashes. I put so much work into the Ashes, and I think back to the one-day games after the Ashes and I don’t think I’ve ever hit the ball that bad in my life.
“I was making horrible decisions and I just felt horrible at the crease. I think it all comes down to the mental part of the game and I put so much into the Ashes that it took so much out of me. A bit of a break perhaps isn’t the worst thing. Hopefully I’ll be able to come back and perform at a really high level gain, but we’ll see what happens.
Of his return in Canada, he added: “I normally don’t get real nervous before I play but I’ll be real honest, I was a bit nervous today. Three months off and I haven’t hit that many balls back home, I’ve had a couple of nets but I haven’t had a hit on turf.
“A hit indoors yesterday and it felt pretty good and had a bit of luck today and I didn’t feel as good as I probably ever had, but it’s nice to score some runs when you’re not feeling good. Hopefully some positive signs.
“People have asked me if I’m going to play a lot of tournaments around the world while I’m suspended from international cricket and I’m going to play this one and go from there.
“I know I’m going to go back and I want to try to make a difference at Sutherland, Shane Watson’s going to be playing there so it’ll be great to reunite with him. I’m getting married back home as well, so I do have a lot to look forward to, but we’ll see. If I’m playing in other tournaments there’s every chance it’ll be later on, probably next year.”