Smith refreshed after draining Ashes campaign

By Sports Desk October 09, 2019

Australia’s Ashes hero Steve Smith is ready to return to cricket after a much-needed break since returning home from England.

The batsman was a pivotal figure as Australia retained the Ashes with a 2-2 draw in England this European summer, having compiled 774 runs across four Tests for the Baggy Green.

Focus now turns to the Australian summer, with T20 series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka over the next month, and Smith says he feels refreshed after shaking off fatigue from the Ashes campaign.

"It was probably a bit of everything: mental, emotional, physical," Smith told reporters at Sydney Airport.

"Towards the last Test match it got to day two and my mind was saying 'keep going', but my body had shut down and wouldn't let me do anything.

"I was a little bit sick after that. I've had a good couple of weeks just to lay low. I just got back into things over the past week.

"I've had three hits now. That will be enough to be ready to go for this first Shield game."

Smith will make his first appearance in domestic first-class cricket since the 2018 ball-tampering scandal when NSW face Queensland in Thursday’s Sheffield Shield clash at the GABBA.

Our #SheffieldShield squad for our season opener against Queensland at the Gabba starting tomorrow! 

? https://t.co/4LZpCormJN #QLDvNSW pic.twitter.com/DgDLE7zmIV

— NSW Blues (@CricketNSWBlues) October 9, 2019

Questions have already been posed regarding the possibility of Smith captaining the Australia side again, with his leadership ban set to expire in 2020, but the 30-year-old played down speculation and praised the work of current skipper Tim Paine.

"I'm not even thinking about that at the moment," Smith said.

"I was pretty chilled out the whole time (in England). I'm obviously pretty intense when I am out there batting but I help out wherever I can.

"I don't want to sit back and not say something if I think it might help us. We will cross that bridge later if it comes. At the moment I am comfortable and Tim is doing a great job."

Smith is expected to make a domestic return to Test action in November when Australia host Pakistan in a three-match series.

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    Smith and David Warner were suspended for a year and Cameron Bancroft received a nine-month ban for their part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal during the third Test against the Proteas almost two years ago.

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    Former skipper Smith had to contend with plenty of jibes in England last year after serving his ban and is expecting more of the same over the coming weeks.

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    Prolific batsman Smith may be braced for verbals while on the field, but revealed he has received a warm welcome off it.

    He added: "It's nice to be back playing in South Africa. The last time I was here things didn't end overly well, but I've also got really fond memories of playing here.

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    "Everywhere I have been the people have been lovely. Guys have come up and taken some photos and been really nice.

    "It's been normal, the same as compared to when I've been here previously. It's a terrific place to tour and I'm glad to be back."

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