Steve Smith opens up about rocky months after sandpaper saga - 'I needed a break'

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Steve Smith has opened up on a turbulent three months since his world came crashing down following the ball-tampering saga.

Fronting media for the first time since a tearful press conference at Sydney airport in March, former Test skipper Smith admitted he has had a rough time dealing with a one-year ban from international and domestic first-class cricket.

That was given to Smith by Cricket Australia for his role, alongside ex-deputy David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, in "sandpaper gate" in South Africa.

"I have been up and down with my emotions if I'm being honest," Smith said at a press conference at the Global T20 Canada league on Thursday.

The 29-year-old said it was particularly difficult watching from afar as Australia suffered a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of England in the recent ODI series.

"Watching the boys play in England, not playing as well as they could have, it was hurting me I couldn't go out and help them win games," Smith said.

Smith credited fiancee Dani Willis and father Peter, as well as family and friends, for helping him recover from the aftermath of the ill-fated Test in Cape Town in March.

"I've had a few close group of people that have really helped me," Smith said.

"My fiancee, my old man, couple close mates that's made a big difference.

"I'm fortunate I've had those people help me get through what was a pretty difficult time in my life."

But Smith is finding positives from his three-month hiatus from competitive cricket, which ended when he guided the Toronto Nationals to a six-wicket victory over Vancouver Knights in the opening match of the fledgling Canadian T20 league.

The world's top-ranked Test batsman revealed he had been feeling mentally fatigued since the recent Ashes series, which Australia won 4-0.

"It's been tough but I think I needed a break if that makes sense," Smith said.

"It's obviously come under some ordinary circumstances, but I was really mentally fatigued after the Ashes.

"I put so much into that Ashes ... I don't think I've ever hit the ball that bad in my life.

"I just felt horrible at the crease and it comes down to the mental part of the game.

"A bit of a break perhaps wasn't the worst thing ... hopefully I'll be able to come back and perform at a really high level again."

Smith was also ordered to serve 100 hours of community service by Cricket Australia, which he chose to carry out with mental health foundation Gotcha 4 Life.

"We've been talking about mental health and it's been quite therapeutic for myself, but also the kids in the schools I've gone to - I know we've made a big difference."

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