Former Australia captain Steve Smith described how being mentally drained after the Ashes led to him “making horrible decisions” as he returned to competitive action for the first time since the ball-tampering controversy.
Smith was given a 12-month international and domestic ban by Cricket Australia for his role in the attempt to alter the condition of the ball during the third of four Tests against South Africa in March.
Three months on from the Cape Town scandal, Smith made his comeback in the inaugural Global T20 Canada, contributing 61 from 41 deliveries to help the Toronto Nationals claim a six-wicket victory over the Vancouver Knights in the tournament curtain-raiser at the Maple Leaf North-West Ground.
Reflecting on his time away, the 29-year-old said in a press conference broadcast on the tournament’s official website: “I’ve been up and down with my emotions, if I’m being honest.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s been a difficult time in my life, there’s no doubt about that. But I’ve accepted my punishment, I’ve accepted what I’ve gone through and I’m moving forward. Part of my rehab is playing cricket as well, that’s what I love doing.
“I had a bit of luck today and I didn’t feel as good as I probably ever have but it’s nice to score some runs when you’re not feeling good, so hopefully some positive signs.”
Smith amassed 687 runs at an incredible average of 137.4 during Australia’s 4-0 Ashes victory last winter and he admitted his efforts had taken their toll leading up to the ball-tampering row.
He said: “I think I needed a break, if that makes sense. It’s obviously come under some ordinary circumstances but I was really mentally fatigued.
“I put so much into the Ashes that I even think back to the one-day games after the Ashes, 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 just think it all comes down to the mental part of the game and just putting so much into that Ashes back home it just took so much out of me.”
Australia have failed to win in any international format since the scandal, suffering a 5-0 whitewash defeat in the one-day international series to England before losing the one-off T20 on Wednesday.
Smith added: “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 and help them win games.”