Steve Smith’s incredible return to Test cricket highlights sports as the crucible of human achievement
The greatest stories in sport are not the arrival of a new miracle wunderkind, they are about redemption and beating all sorts of odds. Let us be honest, almost everyone of us knows somebody who once flew high and then was brought down to earth by a combination of their own hubris and circumstance. Fallen angels are not always evil, but the reasons they fall out of public affection could be myriad — a loss of form, extreme public humiliation or being caught doing something wrong in the sport. Steve Smith and his then vice-captain were caught tampering the match ball with sandpaper, a clear case of cheating. His fall from grace, being Australia’s ‘anointed one’ to the man who had brought disrepute to what many Australians consider the second-most important position in their nation, the Test team captain, was shocking and swift. The media and most of the public shunned him, whereas days ago he was the man of the moment. The worst thing about a fall from grace is not the public humiliation, it is the depression that follows. When an athlete, or anyone else for that matter, has been stripped of his or her self-worth, they will question themselves and the sport. Smith did not believe he would ever play cricket again for Australia. Indeed he wondered whether he could bring himself to play the game again. But step by step, including a stint in the Indian Premier League, Smith got back his mojo and his return to Test cricket has been triumphant. For himself, his teammates, the Australian selectors and cricket fans worldwide. The uncouth ‘boos’ that greeted him when he walked out on the first morning had turned to grudging respect from the England fans by the end of the fifth day when Australia remarkably won the Test. Steve Smith’s redemption was complete and it was as if he didn’t miss a beat.
Smith’s story is not unique. Earlier this year Tiger Woods, who battled his body and intense public humiliation, stunned even himself as he won the Masters Championship. Then there is the story of Ian Botham in 1981 in the Ashes series, where he went from being a washed-up talent to being an all-time great. The stories of sports redemptions are the best. Because they give everyone hope that tomorrow can be a better place and Steve Smith has proven to cricket fans across the world the power of self-belief and never giving up.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer