Former Australia skipper Steve Smith made an impressive return to cricket as he hit a half-century in the inaugural match of the Global T20 Canada League on Thursday (June 28). Cricket Australia had imposed a one-year ban on Smith for his involvement in the ball-tampering plot at Newlands in March.
Playing for the Toronto Nationals, Smith slammed 61 runs off 41 deliveries (8 fours and 1 six) to help his team register a 6-wicket victory over Vancouver Knights at the Maple Leaf Cricket Ground in Ontario.
Electing to bat first, the Knights rode on Evin Lewis’ 55-ball 96 and Andre Russell’s 20-ball 54* to post a daunting total of 227/4 in 20 overs. In reply, Nationals lost Hong Kong all-rounder Nizakat Khan cheaply that led to Smith’s arrival at the crease and he was greeted with a standing ovation by the spectators.
Smith and Anton Devcich forged a 91-run for the second wicket to bail Toronto out of trouble. During the course of this partnership, Smith also notched up his fifty off just 34 balls.
The Australian star was eventually stumped for 61 but the Nationals were well on course for a victory as their score read 151/3 in the 14th over. Devcich remained unbeaten on 92 runs off 44 balls to guide Toronto home with 6 wickets in hand and 4 balls to spare.
Playing after a gap of more than three months, Smith admitted to being a tad nervous.
“I normally don't get real nervous before I play but if I'm being honest I was a little bit nervous today, three months off and I hadn't hit that many balls,” Smith said after the game, as per the quotes in ICC.
“I had a bit of luck today, didn't feel as good as I have in the past but it's nice to score runs when you're not feeling good so hopefully there are positive signs. Chasing, you need a lot to go right and that’s a great way to start the tournament,” he added.
Former Australia opener David Warner is also part of the Global T20 Canada League. The southpaw will represent Winnipeg Hawks in the tournament. The Hawks will play their first game against Montreal Tigers on Saturday (June 30).