The tragedy of Steve Smith’s fall from grace

The tragedy of Steve Smith’s fall from grace, by Peter Lalor.

They’ll be taking Steve Smith’s faces off the cereal packets. Removing his image from the poles and buildings as if to signal the regime change. He’s fallen. …

There’s a sense that every time there’s a bin fire in cricket [David Warner] has been seen wandering from the scene with a pocketbook of matches, an empty can of petrol and a ‘wasn’t me’ shrug. …

Back to Smith because I can’t shake the sadness about his demise. Here was one of the most personable, least calculating, more talented and one of the more genuinely decent people to skipper the Australian team in recent decades.

That’s no knock on the others, but Smith has an openness, even naivety, that few of those men had. Here was a man with no pretensions. An enthusiast. …

Smith entered the highest office in Australian sport wearing shorts and thongs, opened the door and greeted all comers with a goofy grin.

And, boy, can he play. Gifted with natural talent but not on the scale of an AB de Villiers who has had his bat kissed by God, Smith worked and works and worked and works and grafted a goofy approach that has seen him achieve results in his career no batsman, Bradman aside, had.

The outrage is searing, crippling even. …

It’s a mark of his character that he saw a bus headed for Bancroft, knew that it wasn’t right and attempted to throw himself in front of it. He knew he couldn’t completely protect the opener but he wanted to share his pain. How many would have done that? How much has it cost Smith? If he’d kept quiet this could have been “managed”. Maybe if he had his time again he would. What sort of person voluntarily risks all they have achieved? …

The pressures of captaining the Australian team are immense. … Captains go crazy with the strain. Most crack at some point. Sometimes it’s calamitous, other times just a little unsettling. …

Smith will be beating himself harder than anybody can beat him over this. He’s done something foolish and he’s paying for it like few before him. Politicians lie and cheat and stay in office unscathed. Everybody does something they are ashamed of.

The greatest shame is that moment of treachery is so out of character with everything else about Steve Smith.

Maybe I had him wrong, but I am pretty sure I don’t. He can’t remain as captain and he can’t play cricket for Australia again for some time, but he should not be exiled or excoriated forever.