Steven (Steve) Smith is the 45th Australian Test captain to hold this position and ranks as the third youngest, at the age of 25 years, to be offered the job. His debut in the baggy green occurred at GABBA in Brisbane in 2014, when Michael Clarke was injured. The expectation was that Brad Haddin would take over the role but the selectors decided otherwise.
As decisions went this was a very unusual one, creating a great amount of commentary, but proved to a be a very wise decision, which three years on sees him once again leading the Australian Test side against England in the Ashes series with one win to date and the outcome of the second test of the 2017/18 series still to be decided at Adelaide at the time of writing.
But what is it that drives a man this young to be able to confidently take on a formidable role at the age of 25 years and be incredibly successful. His Captaincy has seen the team crash and burn and rise again to the heights of success, which is an indicator of a bit more than just skill in his own discipline, which is batting, a bit more than a passion for the game and a love of a sport; it shows a man who is capable of leading by example, showing the way and also, a man who is always thinking of alternatives, if or should plan A fail.
As a young child he was keen to be able to play cricket whenever the opportunity arose; his father bowled to his bat in the backyard for a many days, weeks and years, always encouraging him to think about the ball, to look for alternatives and never, ever give in.
His parents, in a chapter written by his father, tell that he was always a keen sportsman, with cricket being his first love, as he was considered far too slight to really become involved in Rugby. Tennis was also a passion but not one that superseded cricket. As he grew up he began representing his State, heading to Britain to play grade Cricket, and then returning to Australia to once again represent his State and also try out and be selected for a variety of first grade Games.
His rise through the ranks is not that of a ‘golden boy’, it is that of a young man who followed his passion and worked hard at developing his skill levels. Initially his dream was to be a bowler, with a good ability to bat – to become an all-rounder in the game. Although successful as an all-rounder he, along with the coaches, realised he would be far more effective as a batsman and so he once again adapted, changed, focused; the results of his ability to adapt to the situation are there, recorded in time and the annuals of World Cricket.
In his biography he tells his story as it is which is inspirational, fascinating, revealing; a bit like sitting down and having a chat with this talented young man, over a beer or a coffee, about his pathways and where he sees it leading eventually.
He freely admits that he could easily become completely obsessed with cricket, but he also says that this obsession needs to be managed, as there will eventually come a day when he is looking at a different future, and the real possibility that there is another passion just waiting to be discovered. Dani, his partner of several years, helps keep him grounded as do his team mates and family. His face is one that is well known to all cricketers and Australians alike. His courage and fortitude is also well-known and respected.
He talks openly about his rise, and fall and rise in cricket, the effects still felt of the tragic death of Phillip Hughes, a friend from a young age when they competed in opposing sides, to a team mate and opponent at senior level cricket, and the lessons learned along the way.
The Journey makes for compelling reading which presents an honest and rare insight into a man who will rank amongst Australia’s greatest cricketers, a man whom for any young cricketer or sports person will inspire and encourage them to keep on trying, and to never give up!
|Author||Steve Smith with Brian Murgatroyd|
|Publisher||Allen and Unwin|
|Distributor||Allen and Unwin|