By Nasser Hussain for the Daily Mail
Published: 21:18 BST, 1 August 2019 | Updated: 22:35 BST, 1 August 2019
I did a piece in the nets the other day with Steve Smith and it struck me that the greatest of his many assets is simple: he just loves batting.
If that sounds like an obvious thing to say about a bloke who averages 62, then Smith's love goes deeper than that of most cricketers I've known. He says, for example, that he doesn't sleep during a Test match — not because he's a worrier, but because he's visualising the bowlers and getting excited about the day ahead.
He said part of the reason he likes to bat so long is because he's a terrible watcher. He wants to be in the battle all the time and views every innings as an opportunity to score runs.
Steve Smith raises his bat after hitting a century on the first day of the Ashes at Edgbaston
That's why the tearful press conference he gave over a year ago after his ban for the sandpaper stuff was so poignant. Fundamentally, he's a good guy who made a mistake and was faced with the realisation that the thing he loved doing most was about be taken away from him for 12 months.
He felt as though he'd let the game down and his dad down — the bloke who used to play with him on their driveway and feed him ball after ball. If anything, that ban has made him even hungrier. If anything, he's now going to make up for lost