Cricketer's Diary: Smith's battle honours - Sport - The Independent

Cricketer's Diary: Smith's battle honours

GOOCH has guts, Gower exudes grace, but there is no one more solid than Smith. He is the one in the England team most gambling men would have put their house on to halt Pakistan's procession.

There's something about his forward defensive that says: 'Get past that,', the nature of his rasping cut that announces 'Take that, sir' in the manner of medieval jousters.

The duel between Smith and Waqar Younis has been a captivating one all summer, laden with punches and counter-punches, bristling with aggression.

There have been some choice verbal exchanges too. Waqar appears not to have been averse to threatening more target practice after a quick bouncer has been skilfully avoided. Smith responds with some metaphorical chest-beating - a back-foot smash next ball followed by the retort: 'You'll have to bowl faster than that, you know.' This is brave man's talk.

There must be mutual respect between these two but it is not obvious. There were so many private comments exchanged that during one match Wasim Akram, fielding at mid-off, suddenly said: 'Hey you two, why don't you just make up.'

In spite of a lingering South African accent, Smith is an evolving Englishman with a declared love of the country and no intention of returning to his birthplace. But he has never neglected the work ethic that he gleaned in Durban from his British-born father, a saddler, and his mother.

As a teenager he would be up at 5am to practise on a strip of artificial turf in the back garden, a run and swim complementing the pre-breakfast routine.

The Smiths helped to fix up winter club contracts for various other Hampshire players and they would arrive regularly in mid-morning for a session against the bowling machine before sampling one of Florence the cook's legendary lunches by the pool.

It was a far cry from the tense, sometimes acrimonious atmosphere of a Test match, but has stood Robin in good stead. And while he perspires, honing technique and muscle, his brother Chris will be loafing on a lilo in Perth, betraying a satisfied smile. He wagered good money at long odds on his brother playing 50 Tests before he had even made his debut. So far Robin has appeared in 36, his average is 50.86 and rising.

Smith obviously has no worries about imminent winter employment, but he is in the lucky minority. For most county cricketers the last day of the season comes as a nasty shock after five months of having your life mapped out and some of the mortgage covered.

Suddenly you are dumped like a stone with no retainers or fringe benefits and only a contract for next year as a source of some optimism. One leading bowler in his early twenties is still earning under pounds 8,000 this year - calculated on an hourly rate that is less than the average wage of an office cleaner.

With the recession biting even harder in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, winter coaching jobs are more difficult to find and it is possibly time the Cricketers' Association appointed someone to find their members off-season jobs.

It does not matter much what they are. In the past, players have performed as the back end of a horse in a pantomime, caught free-range chickens with a large net, or sampled sugar-beet crop for moisture content, as the wicketkeeper, Chris Scott, will be doing shortly.

Scott wore the benefit tie of his erstwhile colleague, Kevin Cooper, last week as a mark of respect to the stalwart whose release was announced by Nottinghamshire. This is sad news, but Cooper is in a class of his own as man and swing bowler and should find other pastures on which to ply his trade.

Simon Hughes, of Durham, composed his column while rejoicing at the termination of shortened run-ups for bowlers in the Sunday League from next season.

Suggested Topics
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week