Well it’s happened, a little over a week ago Australia closed the deal against England despite losing the 5th and final test, to retain the 2019 Ashes campaign. What a journey it has been for few and for many. This is a fierce competition for all selected but none can compare with the weight on the shoulders of the former Aussie Captain. Though many will still maintain their loss of loyalty to the batting talent that is Mr. Steve Smith, people will share with me I hope, a true appreciation for this mans gusto and strength of character whilst cricket fans the world over watched on with sharp eyes and inclined ears across the globe.
Mr. Smith would not begin to know that he would be leading the charge as top run scorer, test for test in a place not his home. A massive total of 761 is nothing to snuff at no matter who you are or what you’ve done and it brought hope once again to flocks of Aussies who traveled far from down-under to watch a bit of cricket all the while frustrating the English side when standing at the facing crease. Even time for fun with a beach ball.
Most of us would be familiar with the involvement of ball tampering in a test match against South Africa and ever since then it has sent a rift through the reputation of Australian cricket. Two other players were involved in the incident but today special focus is deserved of this man.
Cases like these are interesting not necessarily because of the score of the game but the mental score of the game. How suitable it is to name a 5 day match as a ‘test’ and on more angles than one indeed. Smithy would likely be familiar with pressures of the game otherwise he would of not worked himself into the previous captain position. His confidence would grow to be bullet-proof in front of the stumps with each 50 and knocking on a century or even a double century, gradually reinforcing that he was the best at his craft and exactly where he needed to be.
There can only be speculation as to the elation he experienced when he received standing ovations from friends and foes in his unstoppable runs crusade. Once famous for some sly tactics, the next he’s famous for proving why he is still the best in the world.
Smith would not only need to keep a stoic face to front the flocks of still angry nay-sayers but must rise above his own demons. To top it off this is not just regular test cricket but the ancient rivalry that is Heralded:
The Super-Bowl to your football.
The Wimbledon to your tennis.
Getting caught in South Africa while in the top leadership slot means having a giant spotlight on you at all times which also meant his home life would be invaded on a personal level and probably created hell strain on his relationships over the last 12 months after the media bombardment online and in person. It’s hard to believe this is a sport we are talking about and not a bank heist or a murder trial. Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball would even give him a verbal jousting on T.V announcing his disappointment and how it negatively effected the nation as a whole just to twist the knife on his confidence.
He would have to accept the consequences of being banned from international level cricket and keep a clean nose if he could earn his spot back in the Australian side.
By the time he was destined back in the team, England supporters would not make his stay comfortable either whilst in Gods green country! faced with paint slapped signs of banter, along with the echoes of ‘booes’ from the stands, rippling vibrations right down to the pitch stumps, while chants ranted on from the notorious ‘barmy army’ singing to him with joined voices to test his metal:
“Steve Smith is an Aussie
He wears a baggy cap
And when he saw some sticky tape
He said I’m having that…
He gave it Cameron Bancroft
Who rubbed it on the ball
Those cheating Aussie convicts
They’ll never change at all!”
(And so on)
I would be wrong to categorize every sporting fan the same way, balance is important and strong competitive talk is just apart of the game. I would also be generously wrong that anyone following the Ashes series whether from either side, who gave Smith some slap, that they hated the man and wished ill-will on him. Likely people just wanted to see what sort of pressure he could perform under, would a show be brought to the crowd. Will they be entertained?
We all are prone to deviate from the straight and narrow of truth and honesty whether in family life, career or the sports arena. I have made plenty. Our small choices, evil or good, lead to big opportunities to act. Recognize the signs that you are heading down a slippery slope of self deception and correct course to true north.
“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,…Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.”
C.S Lewis – (“The Screwtape Letters”)
A host of emotions might accompany you as the proverbial judges gavel is slammed on the desk with what next. From here is where the tires hit the road with work on your character. There will be opportunity to revert back to old short cuts and abusing rules to get your way. There will be people hard on your back and making known you were caught in the wrong. There will be the battle of the conscious that wishes to beat ones self up with the gloves of self righteousness, but endure it to the end. Don’t bite back nor be hard on yourself with anxiety, preserve your energy for if even the entire world rejects you there is somebody who does accept you.
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Luke 12:6-7 ESV (Bible)
Steve Smith showed us what a brilliance it is to see somebody fight the good fight. An imperfect man with the same human tendencies as us all did not let that stop him, nor should it stop any of us from trying again. Wiser is always better and sometimes we learn the hard way.
“To do righteousness and justice Is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice”
Proverbs 21:3 ESV (Bible)
Underdogs are everywhere in books, movies and real life, we love them or we hate them. whether through misfortune or mistake, Smith reclaimed something bigger than his own innocence with only a block of willow in his hands.