That’s it, I have been listening to TMS special and learn England have comprehensively lost the first cricket test against the Aussies. It could have all been so different, except for one man: Steve Smith.
Having been on the mountain top, having won the Cricket World Cup two weeks ago, it is back down to earth for the English, playing a quite different brand of (test match) cricket. Having reduced the Aussies to 122-8 in the first innings, that man Smith played a blinder and they ended with a creditable 284. England played well in their first innings, especially centurion Rory Burns, scoring 374 and a 90 run lead. It began to look good for England reducing the Aussies to 75-3 in their second innings and again it was Smith who played superbly, well supported by later order batsmen. And there was nothing it seems England could do about it with the Aussies ending 487-7dec. Sadly, the English were blown away in the fourth innings by a formidable Australian bowling attack, led by their excellent spinner, Nathan Lyon, with some of the English players seriously underperforming, scoring 146 and losing by 251 runs. Losing their star bowler, Jimmy Anderson, early on, and their spinner unable to capitalise on a pitch that suited spin bowling, did not help, but credit goes to the Australians, especially the imperious Smith and their good bowling attack. England need to rebuild after this set back but they have their work cut out. One can only hope.
In my dream World XI, I would put Smith alongside Tendulkar and Lara in the middle order. Having followed Australian batsmen since my boyhood and seen many who I have admired because of their ability (Chapell, Border, Waugh, Ponting etc.), I might dare say Smith is better than the best of them and, while maybe not quite as good as Don Bradman, I reckon he can’t be that far off. The sadness of course is that he has just come back to playing Test cricket having been banned for a year because of cheating, something many churls in the crowd did not let him forget. As I see it, he has done the crime and the time and deserves a second chance, which he has seized.
If what we have just witnessed is illustrative of how redemption can and ought to work out, I can’t think of a better example.