Smith: I’ve been up and down with my emotions

Former Australia captain Steve Smith says that he has been “up and down” with his emotions during the last few months since he received a one-year ban for his part in the ball-tampering scandal.

Smith was speaking after making his comeback to the cricket field on Friday in the opening match of the Canada Global T20, playing for the Toronto Nationals against the Vancouver Knights.

It was the first time the 29-year-old had spoken to the media since he broke down in a press conference in March apologising for his actions in South Africa.

After contributing 61 from 41 balls in a victory for Toronto, Smith admitted that it was especially tough watching the Australia team being hammered on the recent limited-overs tour to England.

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He did however say that having a break from playing at the highest level might not be the worst thing as he was mentally fatigued, especially after leading the Aussies to the Ashes.

In quotes published on ESPNCricinfo, Smith said: “I’ve been up and down with my emotions if I’m being honest.

“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 ordinary 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.”

Smith thanked his family – his manager, wife and father – and close friends for the all the support they have given him through the difficult period.

Part of Smith’s rehabilitation will be to help grassroots cricket in Canada and back home and he has already said that he will donate the salary that he earns in the Canada Global T20 to help promote the sport in the North American country.

Smith continued: “They know I absolutely love this game, and all I’ve ever wanted to be is a cricketer and I think they’d just be happy to see me back playing the game and it was fortunate to score some runs in my first game back, I didn’t feel as good as I would’ve liked, but it’s nice to score runs when you’re not feeling good.

“I know all the people back home would be really proud of me playing here for the reasons I’m here as well. So it’s nice to be out in the middle.

“The last couple of months having some time off, I’ve been fortunate to do some really good work with Gotcha For Life and Gus Worland, talking about the mental health space and manning up and being vulnerable.

“Sometimes it’s okay to not be okay and things like that.”