Edgbaston: Australia's Steve Smith, whose crucial ton on day 1 of the first Test match in the Ashes helped his side cross the 250-run mark despite losing early wickets, revealed that there were times in the last 15 months when he was uncertain of continuing cricket.
"There were times throughout the last 15 months where I didn't know if I was ever going to play cricket again," ESPN Cricinfo quoted Smith, as saying.
Smith made his comeback to the longest-format in the Ashes after serving a one-year ban over his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal last year. While playing in the Bangladesh Premier League, he picked an elbow problem after which he underwent surgery in January this year.
The 30-year-old's 144-run stand helped Australia get to a total of 284 runs on the first day of the Edgbaston match on Thursday.
Smith went on to reveal that there was a phase when he felt he had lost his love for cricket.
"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 when I got my brace off my elbow I found my love for it again. I don't know what it was, it was like a trigger to go again, I want to play, I want to go out and play for Australia and I guess make people proud and just do what I love doing," he said.
"I've never sort of had those feelings ever before where I didn't have a great love for the game and it was there for a little while. Fortunately, that love's come back and I'm really grateful to be in this position now, playing for Australia again and doing what I love," Smith added.
At one point, the visitors were at 122 for 8 but it was Smith who saved the sinking Australian ship.
Smith said he is 'really proud' to have helped the team, but also praised English bowlers.
"Just really proud that I was able to help pull the team out of a little bit of trouble. Obviously England bowled exceptionally well in the first two sessions and it was hard work out there, I'm just proud that I was able to dig in and fight through the difficult periods and get ourselves to a competitive total," the batsman opined.
"I think it has got to be one of my best hundreds, definitely, 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 for 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," Smith said.
The crowd at Edgbaston gave a hostile reception to the 30-year-old just like they did in the recently concluded World Cup because of Smith's involvement in the last year controversy. However, Smith said the crowd jeering did not bother him and all that matters is the support he gets from his teammates.
"It doesn't bother me to be perfectly honest; I know I've got the support of the guys in the room and for me that's all that really matters. They went berserk on the balcony when I got to a hundred and just looking up at them really sent shivers down my spine. It's been a long time coming, getting another Test hundred, and it was a huge moment and I'm lost for words, I don't really know what to say at the moment," he said.
England will resume day 2 at 10/0....