Steven Smith turned down England and New Zealand to play for Australia
What's the story?
In what comes as a rather shocking revelation, Steven Smith, in his autobiography, The Journey, has opened up about arguably the biggest decision of his cricketing career.
The Aussie skipper wrote that he could have just as easily turned out for England and New Zealand rather than his beloved Australia had money been a motivating factor for him.
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Smith holds dual-citizenship courtesy his mother who is a London native, and featured for Surrey as an 18-year-old. During his teenage years, he dropped out of school to focus on a career in cricket, and captured the attention of several English county sides.
He was picked up by Surrey and put in some strong displays for the second XI, after which he was offered a £30000-a-year deal, which he eventually went on to turn down.
"It was a lot of money to potentially throw away as an 18-year-old and I'd never conceived of such a large amount in my life. If it had been about money then it would have been no contest. Surrey were offering me a three-year deal worth around £30,000 per year while my first rookie contract with Cricket NSW netted me around AUD$12,000," Smith wrote.
The heart of the matter
According to Smith, he had to choose between staying with Surrey and turning his back on his native Australia, or heading to New South Wales for a massive pay-cut. "I had to decide whether I wanted to press on with the ambition to play for New South Wales and, ultimately, Australia, or throw in my lot with English county side Surrey and pursue the possibility of playing international cricket for England."
However, the 28-year-old added that he never entertained the possibility of playing for any country other than Australia and hence never took the offer seriously. He also went on to add that turning down the Surrey deal made him work even harder to achieve his ultimate goal of putting on the Australian yellow.
Smith, after turning down the lucrative Surrey contract, headed back to his homeland and debuted for the New South Wales. Impressive performances with both bat and ball meant he soon made the jump to the international level. While he struggled initially to make an impact at the highest level, a tweak in technique and a strong temperament resulted in him churning out runs like nobody's business. Funnily enough, his maiden Test century came at the Kia Ovel, the ground Surrey call home.
Smith, in his autobiography, also shared another interesting piece of information from his past. "There's also a New Zealand connection in our lives, as we moved to Torbay near Auckland when I was one," he wrote. "Dad managed a sales office there for Dussek Campbell, the company created by the merger of Campbell Technical Waxes and Dussek Brothers. You could say that had things turned out differently, I could just as easily have been playing for New Zealand as Australia."
Smith is all set to lead his side in the upcoming Ashes series that begins on November 23.
The thought of the tough-as-nails Smith donning anything other than the Baggy Green is difficult to imagine. Even at a young age, a cherubic Smith, instead of being driven by money, chose to follow his dream and stay loyal to one country. For champions, righteousness is a way of life, and Smith swore by the nation that nurtured his cricketing abilities as a kid, and decided to pay in kind by choosing a career wrapped in yellow.
For those who have tracked his career from a young age, the Steve Smith journey has been an extraordinary ride. From a leg-spinner aspiring to be the next Shane Warne, Smith evolved into a top-notch batsman, a puzzle even for the best of bowlers. The latest revelation from his biography adds another layer of respect to Smith, who has built an unshakable reputation for being an indefatigable batting great and admired-by-all captain par-excellence.