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Thursday, June 13, 2019

story of Cricketer nicknamed Judge ~ who almost ended his life !!

Life is all about perceptions ! ~ we think that Cricket stars who are so much adored are so well placed in life, especially those who have had National recognition and had done well at bigger International arena !

In the MRF World Series (Nehru Cup) match at Kanpur in Oct 1989, when India played England, Krish Srikkanth, Indian Captain promoted Chetan Sharma in chasing 256.  Chetan Sharma scored a century enabling a facile Indian win by 6 wickets.  The man who is subject matter of the post, one who as 4236 test runs in 62 matches and 2419 in 71 one dayers – was out for a duck, to Mano jPrabhakar.

Somewhere read him stating that his father bought a house, knocked it down, made a cricket pitch – Barry Richards & Mike Procter, legends would come and practice in their backyard.  He in fact had a bowling machine too – the pitch was concrete with an astro-turf overlay which meant they all practiced the hard way facing deliveries of 85 mph !  .. .. he went on to play not for South Africa but for England alongside David Gower and Alan Lamb and was a feared batsman.   There were some harsh criticism that he was very good against pacers but not so against spin, yet he averaged 45 against Mustaq Ahmed, scored hundreds against India and Srilanka – David Gower averaged 44 but the southpaw was considered good against spinners in using his feet !

When India toured England in 1990, in July in the first Test at Lords, England amassed 653 /4 and declared.  Graham Gooch with that high backlift made 333; Alan Lamb 139 and this man Robin Smith made an unbeaten ton.  Indian bowlers suffered Kapil Dev 34-5-120-1; Manoj Prabhakar 1/187;  Sanjeev Sharma who played only 2 tests – 1/122; Ravi Shastri 0/99 and Narendra Hirwani 1/102.

Read this interesting article in MailOnline on Robin Smith, known affectionately as 'The Judge', who has discussed his lowest ebb. The 55-year-old has revealed he contemplated taking his own life five years ago !  .. .. Smith struggled with retirement after a long career and had alcohol issues.  He was saved by son Harrison and partner Karin and is now flourishing in Perth.

There is nothing of the swagger and confidence that epitomised Robin Smith when he was one of the best and bravest batsmen in the world as he talks calmly but with the hint of a tear in his eye about the time he wanted to take his own life. Here is something excerpted from that article.

'It's very difficult for me now to even talk about it,' said the man known throughout cricket as The Judge because of his wig-like hair.'It wasn't a case of if I was going to kill myself but when the right time was. I was days away from doing it because I couldn't cope any longer. I was spending a lot of time at Barry Richards' place in Perth and often I would drink half a bottle of vodka, walk up and down the beach and look at the Rendezvous Hotel.… words  ofRobin Smith in a candid interview to Sportsmail's Paul Newman discussing his life !

'I'd worked hard at visualising bowling when I was a cricketer and now I visualised exactly what I was going to do. I felt quite comfortable about it because I believed it would put a lot of people out of their misery. I thought I was bringing too much baggage to my family and upsetting too many people.'I didn't feel I could ever recover from the things I did or the guilt of losing the respect of my children which is the last thing you want to do as a parent. I don't think I'd ever have had the guts to put a gun to my head but taking a whole heap of sleeping tablets, drinking three bottles of vodka and then jumping over a balcony was something I could do.'

It is a startling revelation from one of the most popular cricketers to have ever played the game, a batsman of rare ability who took on and conquered West Indies bowlers in their prime in the late 80s and 90s at a time of huge under-achievement and chaos in the English game. 'The last 15 years have been a traumatic time and that's because something that absorbed my life from the age of 10 when Dad dragged me out of bed at 5am each day to train had come to an end,' continued Smith.

'Cricket was my life, and even though it was always going to finish at some stage, that doesn't make it any easier to cope with retirement. To have that wonderful time taken away was particularly impactful on me because I'd given my heart and soul to this beautiful game of ours. Once I was no longer involved in that unity of dressing room life I found it very difficult to cope.'... life so difficult for someone who as  a batsman conquered the West Indies bowlers at the height of their powers in the 90s! .. .. the 55-year-old said the transition from playing every day to retirement affected him badly   
Suddenly in 2003 everything Smith had always known from his days as a sporting prodigy in South Africa under the tutelage of his driven father to his time as a superstar in the England team of Ian Botham, Allan Lamb and David Gower had come to an end.'I had very serious issues,' said Smith. 'At the time I felt alcohol was the only thing getting me through each day. I've always enjoyed socialising, I was an old-school party animal who loved a few beers after a game but it was controlled and I only drank back then to enjoy the company of others.'But when I retired I felt, rightly or wrongly, that I could have had another year or so in the game and it took me a while to get over that.
It all culminated five years ago, with failed businesses behind him and a history of anxiety and depression, with that contemplation of suicide. Smith, who had begun a new life in Australia after retiring to get away from his old self and in a doomed attempt to save his marriage, was only rescued by the words of his son Harrison and the salvation which came with meeting the woman who is now his partner, Karin. At the time of meeting, he said, 'I was still drinking and incredibly depressed. I'd lost the will to live and the enthusiasm to get out of bed in the morning. I'd lost my bubbly sense of humour but Karin became a friend and made me understand I was a good guy with a terrible problem.

Smith, 55, is sharing his extraordinary story in London where he has come to publicise his new book The Judge, an incredibly moving yet uplifting account of his career of high achievement and fall to the depths of mental illness and as a 'functioning alcoholic'.The book will be launched on Thursday at the Ageas Bowl when Smith will be surrounded by old friends and mentors like Richards, Lamb and Mark Nicholas. He will also be back at his old home ground on Friday when, appropriately, England face West Indies.

But now, with the love and support of Karin who is by his side throughout our hour together, he is actually enjoying being Robin Smith. He has metaphorically used his square cut to swat his demons to the boundary and he is flourishing in Perth working for his brother Chris, a former England batsman himself, and as a coach who advocates a traditional technique rather than Twenty20 strokes.  Retirement, alcoholism, depression, solitude ~ there could be so many – yet life is all about living, not about abrupt ending, whatever be the perceived pressure !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
13th June 2019.

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