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Ashes 2019: Smith moving on from ban with 'one of my best hundreds'

By Opta
Steve Smith returned to Test cricket after a ban with a magnificent century

Birmingham, August 2: Steve Smith relished the opportunity to quickly put his Test lay-off behind him with one of his best Australia centuries in the longest format.

Australia were rocking on the first day of the Ashes opener at Edgbaston either side of Smith's arrival at number four, reduced to 122-8 as Stuart Broad dominated for England.

But former captain Smith, playing for the first time since his 12-month ban for his role in the ball-tampering scandal, kept plugging away.

A magnificent knock of 144 off 219 went a long way towards silencing the boos in the England crowd and Smith acknowledged it would have to go down as one of his greatest Test innings, dragging Australia back to 284 all out.

"It's got to be one of my best hundreds definitely," he said. "It's the first Ashes Test match and the ball was doing a far bit out in the middle, so I had to work really hard.

"I got beaten a few times but let that go and concentrated on the next ball and kept digging in.

"I know the first Test of an Ashes series is always big, so 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 us to a reasonable total.

"I thought Peter Siddle did a magnificent job, with that partnership we were able to build, and Nathan Lyon was magnificent. He actually said to me that was the most nervous he's ever been out in the middle batting.

"To be able to get to 100 and give him a really big hug and let all my emotions out was pretty special."

Smith was asked if the century had special meaning given his involvement in the fiasco in South Africa last year, but he insists he has already moved on.

"That's all in the past now. I'm moving on," he said. "I'm proud to be back here, playing for Australia and hopefully contributing to a Test win here.

"There's obviously a long way to go, but we've got ourselves a reasonable total. Hopefully we can start really well with the new ball."

Smith added: "There were times throughout the last 15 months where I didn't know if I was ever going to play cricket again. I lost a bit of love for it at one point – particularly when I had my elbow operation.

"It was really bizarre that it was the day I got the brace off my elbow that I found a love for it again.

"It was like a trigger that just said, 'I want to go again, I want to play, I want to play for Australia and make people proud, do what I love doing'.

"I'd never had those feelings before where I didn't have a great love for the game. It was there for a little while and, fortunately, that love's come back.

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

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Story first published: Friday, August 2, 2019, 2:50 [IST]
Other articles published on Aug 2, 2019
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