STEVE Smith will be back in the nets on Tuesday night preparing for the South African challenge after conceding he was tired during a woeful one-day campaign.
Fresh off securing his second Allan Border medal on Monday night, and having skipped the Twenty20 tri-series for a short break, Smith said he "couldn't wait" to pick up a bat again.
Smith endured a massive 12 month period of cricket, travel, and a pay dispute on top of that but secured the Ashes, and was the best player as well as being captain.
He didn't deliver in the one-day series in what was a rare lowlight for a stellar period but after finally admitting he needed a break, Smith believes he, and the Test team, will be better for it.
"I certainly feel really good now. It's hard to admit it when you are playing because you don't want to tell yourself these kind of things, but I was really tired at the back end of those one-dayers," Smith said.
"I think the way I was batting and where my mind was at compared to where it was a couple of weeks earlier was in a completely different place and a place I didn't quite enjoy to be perfectly honest.
"But these last couple of weeks have been really good. I actually want to pick up a bat now. I want to go have a hit … I am excited about getting back in to it, and excited about South Africa."
Smith said his vice-captain David Warner, who is also having a short break before linking up with the Twenty20 team in New Zealand on Thursday, would be better for his short stint off before the team's next great challenge in South Australia.
The four match series looms as a massive test for a team Smith believes is starting to build the sort of mental strength and resilience needed to move from being a good side, to a great one.
"I think we have come a long way in the past year," Smith said.
"And the two matches that stand out to me are Ranchi (in India), where we were able to block out a draw for a day and keep ourselves in the series going in to the final match.
"Then in Melbourne (against England) we did the same thing. You always want to play to win but sometimes it's just not possible, but showing the fight and determination to get through those moments and show resilience and adapt, that's what we are all about.
"I think we have made some really big strides in those areas and the team is in a good place. We played well in the Ashes to win 4-0 but we know one series is not the defining moment of a great team.
"You need to continually do it and this next challenge for us in South Africa is going to be a huge one."
Smith and the Test team will leave for South Africa later this week, with the first Test starting in Durban on March 1.
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