LONDON • Australia's Steve Smith said he had contemplated the end of his career before marking his first Test since a year-long ball-tampering ban with a superb century on the opening day of the Ashes.
The visitors were struggling at 17-2 at Edgbaston on Thursday when the former Australia captain walked out to bat after skipper Tim Paine had won the toss.
But Smith, ignoring the boos from the crowd, made 144 to help Australia recover from 122-8 to 284 all out.
England were 10-0 by stumps.
Smith's 24th Test century was the batsman's first international hundred since he returned to Australia duty during last month's Cricket World Cup.
"There were times throughout the last 15 months where I didn't know if I was ever going to play cricket again," Smith, who is known for his obsessive devotion to the sport, told reporters afterwards.
"I lost a bit of love for it at one point, particularly when I had my elbow operation.
"It was really bizarre that it was the day I got the brace off my elbow, I found a love for it again.
"I don't know what it was, it was like a trigger that just said, 'Right I'm ready to go again, I want to play and I want to go out and play for Australia and make people proud and just do what I love doing'."
There were many familiar Smith traits on show in Birmingham, including the repeated fidgeting in his stance, while the partisan crowd could scarcely have been tougher on the 30-year-old than he was when berating himself for the occasional loose shot.
He and his then deputy, David Warner, were given a 12-month ban for their roles in the scandal during a Test in Cape Town, while Cameron Bancroft - the man who brazenly applied sandpaper to the ball, was suspended from international duty for nine months by Cricket Australia.
They were booed on their way out to the middle, but England paceman Stuart Broad, who recorded his 100th Test wicket against Australia after completing an innings haul of 5-86, refused to condemn the home fans for their taunts, having been on the receiving end of a "bit of stick" by Australian crowds.
"It's part of being a professional sportsman," he said. "Footballers get it all the time, but it's a bit unexpected sometimes in cricket."