It’s commonly accepted among Australians that in order to succeed, whether it be in sport, business or politics, one must have a little bit of c*nt in them.
Cricket bears some similarity to business and politics, in that you need to play the long game. To have a successful and sustained tenure at the top, you must appear hardened, impenetrable, utterly impervious to criticism.
Steve Smith, it seems is single-handedly destroying the ‘C*nt Cricketer’ paradigm.
It has now been confirmed that Steve Smith will be the next leader of the Australian cricket team. As such, it is nigh time to scrutinise him beyond belief; to analyse his psyche, his temperament, his decision-making skills, his face, his everything.
We do the same to our nationally elected leaders – and the Australian cricket captaincy, while not democratically chosen, is up there in terms of being a prominent national figurehead.
I’ve wavered on Smith for some time. At first glance, Smith hardly seems like the type of bloke that should be leading Australia in a cricket match. His youthful face, with freckled complexion and squished-together features, coupled with a shock of strawberry-blonde hair, do not scream leadership.
Steve Smith represents a changing of the guard, aesthetically. Australian captains are no longer going to look like Stephen Waugh, Mark Taylor or Allan Border. They are going to look like Steve Smith, Cameron Boyce, and other fresh-faced Academy products.
But let’s put appearances aside, for one moment.
The really interesting thing about Steve Smith is that he genuinely seems to be a nice person. This is both refreshing and concerning in equal parts.
First the concern. We all know (thanks to in large part to Greenday) that “nice guys finish last”. We don’t want the person captaining our Test side to be known as someone who habitually loses.
But Steve Smith’s demeanour is also refreshing. Rather than feeling embarrassed whenever Australia wins by sheer aggression, it would be a real hoot to win without pushing the margins of gamesmanship.
Indeed, many athletes have tried and failed to combine niceness with success – even less so cricketers, a game in which being taciturn is synonymous with being tough.
But Steve Smith has seemingly blended his nice guy persona with unqualified success as a cricketer and as a captain, winning the Sheffield Shield as NSW skipper and cementing his place in the Australian Test side with a series of steady and spectacular performances.
So far Steve Smith has made significant inroads into destroying the traditional “C*nt Cricketer Paradigm”. If he can maintain his current levels of performance and geniality, he could vanquish the paradigm for good.
By Dave Edwards and Ben Shine