Smith: It hurt I couldn’t go out and help them
STEVE Smith has spoken with emotion about the mental roller coaster he has gone on over the past three months and his relief at being back on the field.
The last time the deposed Australian captain spoke, he was a shattered man at his lowest ebb - breaking down in tears with his father at his side at Sydney airport.
But Smith this morning broke his silence after making a confidence-boosting half century in his unlikely return to the game in Toronto, Canada, and gave a stark insight into the journey he has gone on since the ball tampering scandal took world cricket by storm in Cape Town back in late March.
Watching the Australian teammates he has left behind with his 12 month international ban be annihilated by England in the recent limited overs series, has taken its toll.
"I've been up and down with my emotions if I'm being honest," said Smith.
"I've had times particularly watching the boys play in England and not play well as they could have … where it was hurting me that I couldn't' go out and help them.
"When they hopped on plane over there I had some emotions that were a bit down."
Smith admits in hindsight he was mentally burnt out by the pressures and bubble of being Australian captain by the time he arrived in South Africa for the tour that has changed his career forever.
Today he anchored his Toronto Nationals side to a tournament opening victory over Vancouver in the fledgling Canadian T20 League.
But he's not sure what the next few months hold - even though he desperately wants to return to international cricket.
"It's been tough but I think I needed a break. If that makes sense. It's obviously come under some ordinary circumstances. But I was really mentally fatigued," he said.
"After the Ashes I'd put so much into the Ashes that I even think back to the one-day matches after the Ashes, I don't think I've ever hit the ball that badly in my life.
"I was making horrible decisions and I just felt horrible a at the crease.
"I think it all comes down to the mental part of the game and putting so much into that Ashes at home that it just took so much out of me.
"So 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 again but we'll see what happens."
Smith said his work with Triple M presenter Gus Worland's Gotcha For Life charity, where he has travelled to several Sydney schools and spoken to students about mental health has been "therapeutic" in his own recovery process.
He thanked fiancé Dani, his father and other close friends and family for helping him deal with his predicament and rise above it.
"I've had a close group of people that have really helped me. My manager (Warren Craig) who is here with me, my fiancé Dani, my old man and a couple of close mates who have really helped me," he said.
"And that's made a big difference to me. 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. And sometimes it's ok to not be ok and things like that.
"It's been quite therapeutic for myself but also I think a lot of the kids at the schools I've gone to - I know that we've made a big difference so far. And that's just made me feel good in a way and I'm going to do a lot more of that work when I get home. But I'm fortunate I've had the close people to me that have helped me get through what was a pretty difficult time in my life.
"They know that 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 I was fortunate to some runs in my first game back.
"It's nice to be out in the middle."