Steve Smith talked about his ‘dream comeback’ to Test cricket after scoring a second century at Edgbaston on Sunday.
Australia declared on 487-7 on day four of the first Ashes Test to set England a target of 398 to win.
“I’ve never doubted my ability but it’s kind of a dream comeback in a way,” said Smith.
“To be able to score two hundreds in a match, in the first Ashes Test match, it’s something I’ve never done in any form of cricket in my life so it’s incredibly special. And it’s special to put us in the position that we’re in now going into day five.”
The hosts finished the day 13 without loss after seven overs.
Steve Smith admits he has been overwhelmed by the emotion of his return to Test cricket.
The former Australia captain, who was removed from the role and banned for a year for his part in the ball-tampering scandal of last year, became only the fifth Australian to hit centuries in both innings of an Ashes Test as his side moved into a commanding position on day four at Edgbaston.
England have been left chasing 398 to win, or more likely bat out the final day to claim a draw.
Smith scored 142 in the second innings and he said his first-innings hundred had brought a very emotional reaction.
“It did overcome me a little bit and I had to take a few breaths,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s really special and I’m really grateful to be back playing Test cricket.
“I love playing Test cricket and I love playing against England. It’s a terrific place to play Ashes cricket.
“It feels like Christmas morning every morning getting to come and do this.”
Smith underwent elbow surgery in January before his ban had expired, and the 30-year-old admitted it led to doubts over whether he would return at all.
“There was a time when I didn’t know if I wanted to do it again,” he said.
“Just before I had my elbow brace taken off I just wasn’t sure if I had it in me. Funnily enough, the day I had my brace taken off, I was like, ‘right, I’m ready to play again’.
“I’d never felt like that about cricket in my life. They were strange feelings and emotions but now I’m back enjoying what I’m doing and practicing hard. To be playing for my country and wearing this cap, I’m really honoured and grateful.
“It’s incredibly special. Obviously I’ve been out of the game for a while. I was a little bit nervous coming into the first day.
“Normally I don’t get too nervous before a game and it was nice to get that hundred away in the first innings.
“I’ve never scored hundreds in both innings before in any form of cricket so I was pretty keen to do that and I was fortunate that things went my way today and I was able to help us get in a good position.”
Steve Smith completed a majestic return to Test cricket with his second century in the Ashes opener at Edgbaston to leave England scrapping to salvage a result.
Smith, back in the Baggy Green 16 months after being banned for his role in the sandpaper scandal, followed a brilliant 144 on day one with an equally fine 142 on day four to become just the fifth Australian to hit twin hundreds against England.
Where the first rescued his side from the cliff edge at 122-8, the sequel helped set a monstrous target of 398. Matthew Wade also left his mark on the home team, chiming in with a fluent 110 before the declaration came at 487-7.
The more realistic task in front of England was the bat right through for a draw, with first-innings centurion Rory Burns and Jason Roy successfully navigating seven overs before stumps.
They and their nine team-mates must collectively see off another 90 on day five if they are to reach Lord’s all square, on a pitch offering plenty of turn for Nathan Lyon.
The 30-year-old from Sydney has single-handedly shifted the course of the match in a way that is rarely seen at this level, batting for 10 and a half hours and 426 deliveries in all, reasserting his dominance on an attack who will surely be having nightmares about the prospect of feeding him for the next five weeks.
England will rightly bemoan the loss of James Anderson on the opening morning, a right calf injury restricting their record wicket-taker to four overs and effectively leaving them a man down for the remainder.
Since heading for a scan at lunch on Thursday he has only been on the field for a first-innings batting cameo and may well be required for another before events conclude.
In his ongoing absence England needed a big performance from Moeen Ali but his off-spin provided neither the threat nor the constrictive control the team required.
If figures of two for 130 and an economy rate of 4.48 were not bad enough on a turning pitch, Joe Root’s decision to use 26 overs of part-time spin – his own and Joe Denly’s – spoke volumes.
Provided by Press Association Sport