Steve Smith scored over half of Australia’s 284 runs.
Steve Smith scored over half of Australia’s 284 runs.

Smith’s shock confession after heroic ton

STEVE Smith has revealed he fell out of love with cricket six months ago and thought he'd never play again as the depth of his removal from the game hit home.

But his passion is well and truly back and all of Australia are better for it after the former captain smashed a stunning 144 at Edgbaston to further enhance an already legendary status in the game, a situation the now 30-year-old batting genius thought he might not be in.

After completing his masterful knock in Birmingham, one which saved his team's early blushes in the Ashes opener and sent England captain Joe Root barmy as he tried to get him out, Smith revealed that earlier this year he thought he'd never play again.

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Already banned from playing for his country, Smith was even denied the basic pleasure of batting, and hitting the thousands of balls he would normally do, when he underwent an elbow operation in January.

Sidelined from everything he knew and loved, dark thoughts Smith had never experienced before penetrated his previously impenetrable cricket bubble.

"There were times throughout the last 15 months where I didn't know if I was ever going to play cricket again," an exhausted, Smith revealed after stumps.

"I lost a bit of love for it at one point, particularly when I had my elbow operation. And it was really bizarre, it was the day I got the brace off my elbow 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.

"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 am really grateful to be in this position, playing for Australia again and doing what I love."

When he reached triple figures the boos from the unwelcoming English crowd matched the cheers.

But all Smith could see was his teammates going "berserk" on their balcony in the grandstand, so he hugged batting partner Nathan Lyon like he never had before and soaked it all in.

"I know I have the support of the guys in the room. For me, that's all that really matters," he said.

Steve Smith scored over half of Australia’s 284 runs.
Steve Smith scored over half of Australia’s 284 runs.

"They went berserk on the balcony when I got to 100 and looking up at them, it really sent shivers down my spine.

"Nathan Lyon … He actually said to me that's the most nervous I've ever been out in the middle batting so to be able to get to my hundred and give him a really big hug and let all my emotions out that was really special.

"It's been a long time coming, getting another Test 100, a really huge moment, and I'm lost for words, I don't really know what to say."

His bat did, like it so often does, all the talking. His century was his fifth in his past 10 innings against England who struggle for answers to his dominance.

Smith's 219-ball effort included 16 fours and two sixes, having arrived at the crease when his team was 2-17.

A false dawning for the Poms as Smith survives this lbw review.
A false dawning for the Poms as Smith survives this lbw review.

That, more than the fact it was his first Test after being shamed by a 12-month ban, and losing the captaincy, made it one the best of his 24 hundreds in a baggy green.

"I think it has got to be one of my best hundreds, definitely," he said.

"First Ashes Test match, the ball was doing a fair bit out in the morning so I had to work really hard. I got beaten a few times but I just had to let that go and concentrated on the next ball and kept digging in.

"I know that the first Test of an Ashes series is always big. I didn't want to give my wicket up easily, I wanted to keep fighting and fortunately I was able to dig in today and get ourselves to a reasonable total I think."

It was a captain's knock, even though he's not the captain any more.

Smith was at his unorthodox best.
Smith was at his unorthodox best.

But not having the "armband" as Smith called it, doesn't reduce his role for the team.

"I obviously don't have the arm band, and that's ok. I think Tim's done a magnificent job the last 18 months or whatever it is," he said.

"And for me I'm obviously an experienced player now and an experienced person in the dressing room and you want your experienced players to stand up when it's difficult and show the way in a way.

"Fortunately I was able to do that today."