The JourneyArchie Mac |
Author: Smith, Steve with Murgatroyd, Brian
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Rating: 3 stars
Most cricket fans would love to have a wider audience to read their opinions. Me too, but sometimes I am glad I don’t. After watching Mark Taylor beaten for pace twice on debut by Curtly Ambrose, and subsequently bowled twice (once off a no-ball), I wrote him off as being too slow for Test cricket. In a similar vein I wrote Steve Smith off after detecting, in my view, a loose technique on his Ashes debut.
While I would have had egg on my face after the Taylor call, I would have had a baker’s dozen dripping off my chin after the Smith prediction. Think Percy Fender after he wrote off a young Don Bradman.
If only I had the opportunity to read The Journey, I would have remained shtum about Smith. The amount of training and commitment, from Smith towards cricket meant he was always going to give himself every opportunity to make the grade. All aspiring cricketers would do well to read The Journey just to appreciate the dedication required to make the Australian Test team.
Interestingly Smith had the opportunity to choose to play for England as he has a dual passport. After a season in England as a young cricketer he was offered a three year deal by Surrey. It appears though that Smith wanted to play for Australia and set his sights on achieving that goal despite the money on offer from Surrey.
Smith first achieved his ambition of playing for Australia in the 20/20 format, as what he describes as a bits and pieces player. That is he batted late in the order, bowled a few overs of leg spin and threw himself around in the field.
Smith decided that he wanted to be viewed as a specialist and made the decision to focus on his batting to the detriment of his leg spin bowling. This must have been a brave call as his bowling was rated highly enough for him to be given some one to one mentoring from the legendary Shane Warne.
The Journey, as all quality autobiographies should, provides answers to just about every question you have about the subject. From Smith’s unique technique to his superstitions and the mentors who have helped his career.
Apart from his parents it seems Brad Haddin has had a significant impact on Smith’s career and played an important part in him assuming the Australian captaincy. In 2014 Smith and Haddin were having a drink with Cricket Australia representative, Mark Taylor. During the conversation, Haddin, who was the logical stand in captain for the injured Michael Clarke, told Taylor that Smith should take on the hegemony role. When asked was he ready, Smith in confident fashion confirmed that he was and that was that.
Smith quickly quashed any doubts that the captaincy might impact on his batting, scoring a century in his first game at the helm. He also relates that he had to change some of his on-field mannerisms once in charge, to try and keep the players calm.
Smith also describes the problems of being the Australian captain when things aren’t going well. The fiasco of last season when the Aussies were humbled by South Africa in Hobart, saw Smith deliver some home truths to his team, which makes for some great behind the scenes access. Smith adds some lighter moments and relates the fact that he had to have someone identify Matthew Renshaw before the openers’ debut as Smith had never met him.
The Journey, is out just in time for the Ashes and should be on every cricket fans reading list. I for one will be looking forward to eating some more humble pie as the fellow I wrote off puts the Poms to the sword.