SATIRE

SATIRE | Steve Smith saw in me something special

TRUE STORY: It was at an impromptu cricket game in 2013 that I provided Steve Smith with the blueprint for his transformation. Photo: AP
TRUE STORY: It was at an impromptu cricket game in 2013 that I provided Steve Smith with the blueprint for his transformation. Photo: AP

Much misfortune has befallen me, as anyone familiar with my writings would know. And to be sure, most of that misery was self-inflicted.

However, there was one incident of self-sabotage that had an unintended byproduct: producing the greatest Test batsman of his generation - a badly scarred but indomitable young man who stands at the precipice of a redemption tale for the ages.

I speak of Steve Smith

But would you believe me if I told you that I alone inadvertently inspired him to change his batting technique and become an idiosyncratic master?

It was the summer of 2013 and my life was finally looking up. I had secured a radio reporting job that I was determined to springboard from into more prestigious positions, leading to a drivetime show.

A vocal coach had removed the last trace of a Central Queensland upbringing from my voice, and people said that I sounded like John Laws.

At the same time, I was in a new relationship. My voice had beguiled her, and her beauty had bewitched me - forcing me to face my fraught relationship with alcohol.

Now sober, it was with a great sense of personal renewal that I accompanied my lover to a Sunday barbecue at a Sydney cricket club. Among the some three dozen people in attendance was Smith.

Sadly, I started drinking again that day. But I also middled almost every ball after an impromptu game of cricket started on the club's turf wicket.

I later watched a recording of my innings. It showed me rocking back towards leg stump and then half stumbling towards off stump, but somehow dispatching ball after ball to the boundary.

The recording also showed a muscular, heavily tattooed man verbally abuse me for dismantling his bowling. I told him to lose the ponytail as it looked ridiculous. It took three men to restrain him.

Post-game, Smith quizzed me about my batting technique. I was drunk, shamefully, and my exploits were sheer luck, I said. Nevertheless, he exuberantly thanked me.

A short time later, I tripped and fell on to a seated woman, drenching her with beer. She was Ponytail's wife.

The head blow from Ponytail left me with an absurd speech impediment: a hog-like grunt that infected almost every utterance for a long time.

Naturally, my lover left me, and my radio career flopped. But at least Australia got Steve Smith 2.0!

Mark Bode is an ACM journalist. He uses satire and fiction in commentary.