ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: The renaissance man

Omkar Paranjape
Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Steve Smith’s tryst with destiny after a year’s hiatus

London: Steve Smith is one of cricket’s most complex characters. But to England fans he is simply a villain. Booed to the crease in Southampton, booed at fifty, booed even when reaching a century, and booed when dismissed!

The former Australian skipper stood all this as he scored a flawless century, as Australia landed a blow on World Cup favourites England with a tight 12-run victory in a practice match in Southampton on Saturday.

The match did not have official one-day international status, but Smith’s chanceless knock will have done his confidence no harm. 

He said the reception from the crowd spurred him on after being labelled a cheat by boisterous British spectators.

Back from dead
Smith, who was stripped of the captaincy and served a 12-month ban for ball-tampering, showed his batting prowess in Australia’s 12-run win over England, continuing his run of good form since returning to the side.

Given he has also been recovering from an elbow operation he underwent in January, question marks have lingered over how Smith would adapt back to international cricket physically.

While he’s emphatically dismissed any notion that his recovery could affect his batting (or his bowling for that matter, having sent down a couple of overs without issue in the match against West Indies), he said he’s not quite at full capacity in the field yet.

Smith has previously admitted he’d had some “dark days” following the backlash to the scandal and at times felt like he didn’t want to get out of bed. 

While he copped a mixed reception from the Rose Bowl crowd, he labelled it “water off a duck’s back” and suggested he was unfazed.

The team camaraderie
Smith praised the atmosphere in the national setup he’s returned to, with a strong focus being placed on camaraderie under coach Justin Langer, something that he feels is very important.

“When you’re in a team environment and away from home, away from your loved ones and family, I think the word ‘care’ doesn’t get thrown around enough,” said Smith. “I think it’s very important.

“It’s all about hanging tough situations together. We all know the crowds are going to be ruthless over here, we’ve all been here before, we’ve all experienced it. “Move across, flick off the pads. If it is wide, angle the bat and nudge into the gaps. The occasional flurry of cover-drives. Everything in its right place. The runs are beginning to flow for the man who was a run-machine before being caught in the sands of time.

Watch out world!

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