2 nd June 1989….Happy birthday to Steve…
Once a champion always a champion – the redemption of Steve Smith.
Imagine a high flying corporate executive with an Industry-best salary, perks & all the
jamboree including a personal assistant, chauffeur driven car and people around latching
onto his every word to follow his bidding. This person acquires an invincibility mindset and
gets his head in the clouds. Then suddenly in a moment of indiscretion / self-destruction – the person slips up and loses his job alongwith all attendant perks. Imagine his shock and
embarrassment at this sudden turn of the tide.
Now place such a situation on a high-profile International athlete (celebrity). Not only is the
fall from grace much steeper but the degree of embarrassment and shame much more
amplified and visible. Such individuals do not have the luxury to get over the situation and
turn a new leaf in their lives, thanks to constant reminders by the hounding paparazzi, 24×7
social media and millions of followers (public).
The star Australian Cricketer Steve Smith experienced this roller-coaster ride sometime ago.
Not only was he one of the world’s leading batsmen but most importantly also the captain
of Australia – a post acknowledged to be the second most important after the country’s
Prime-minister. One day he was on top of the world – a king of all he surveyed – and the
next day reduced to a pauper after getting embroiled in the sandpaper controversy.
For the uninitiated – this was a cricket ball tampering controversy wherein under Smith’s
leadership one of the Aussie team member’s was caught by TV cameras trying to rough up
one side of the ball with sandpaper to make the ball swing in flight. Smith the skipper, his
deputy David Warner alongwith the protagonist Bancroft and all three received
unprecedented sanctions including a year-long ban from their board (Cricket Australia).
More than the ban, can we imagine the mental torture, shame and regret which Smith
would have undergone at the time? Ordinary mortals are more likely to slip into a
depression due to a complete loss of confidence in their skill which came so naturally to
them earlier. What had become muscle-memory due to years of sweat, toil and
perseverance towards perfecting their craft, suddenly seems difficult, really tough.
So what are the odds of such a beleaguered athlete bouncing forward on the biggest of
stages and in the most demanding of formats in Cricket? Very negligible, right? But that is
indeed what Smith did. He signaled his comeback in the ongoing high octane Ashes Test
series away from home against Australia’s traditional rivals England. What a stage to do it
and in what exhilarating style. 144 runs in the first innings of the first test when the Aussies
had their backs against the wall followed by a 142 in the second innings. Not only did Smith
become just the 5th Australian to score a ton in each innings of a test but he also helped the
Australians to win the test from a precarious position. Are you kidding me, is this for real?
Smith has had his redemption and it is precisely moments like these which highlight the
human ability to overcome their darkest hour. This kind of affirmation and respect is not
earned just by runs scored but by the willingness & ability shown to quietly rebuild your
stellar legacy from the first brick. Golf’s greatest legend Tiger Woods also demonstrated