Cape Town - A moving open letter to Australian captain Steve Smith from an Australian cricket fan and father.
I wish you could see my son!
I’m an Australian living in South Africa. I love cricket and I love my country. When I heard that Australia was touring South Africa for Test cricket I was excited, so excited that I tried to convince my wife that we should buy tickets for our whole family - 4 boys - to go for a day of the Newlands Test. She said we couldn’t afford it - she was right. So we settled on just a ticket for me and the one son who enjoys cricket the most. We saved up and at the end of last year we bought the tickets and gave them to him and me as our Christmas present - 3rd Test, Newlands, Day 3, Saturday, March 24.
It turns out we gave him the best present, a present money can’t buy - anticipation! As his brothers busily played with their latest toys on Christmas day and experienced the joy of instant gratification, he just sat there with a piece of paper and at the dreams it represented. 3 months is a long time for an 8-year-old to wait, but wait he did. And with every month, every week, every day that passed by the anticipation and the excitement grew. A day of Test cricket with his dad, at Newlands, watching the Aussies! For days leading up to it he couldn’t sleep.
When I woke up on Saturday morning, I looked to the skies and feared the weather would steal his joy. Four years of drought for Cape Town and the one day we’re planning on going out to the cricket it looked like it was going to rain. Little did I know at that stage that the storm that would steal our joy had nothing to do with the clouds hanging over Table Mountain.
I wish you could see my son!
I wish you could have seen him yesterday. Perhaps you did - we were on the boundary, front row, around third-man at the Presidents Stand, decked out in all our Aussie gear, proudly supporting our team. Did you see us? Probably not! I wish you could have seen his face - filled with awe and excitement. Giddy with joy, amazed as his favourite players performed with all their effort and skill right in front of him. He kept leaning over to me throughout the day and saying, “Hey dad ... Merry Christmas”! We had an awesome day.
But I wish you could see my son today!
You aren’t his role model. I’ve never understood why people think sports stars are role models. I make sure my 4 boys have great male role models in their lives - they’ve never idolised sports stars. But even still, what you’ve done has hurt! It really hurts a lot. There've been tears in our house today - not just my son’s, but my wife also. She’s a proud Aussie and a big cricket fan. What you did hurt us all badly. I wish you could see my son today. He’s broken, shattered! He changed overnight from standing up tall, smiles all over his face, a skip in his step to now being slumped over, weighed down, upset, sad, teary. I’m not sure he even can articulate why - he just knows it hurts and so do we. The very essence of Aussie pride and the Aussie fighting spirit has been tarnished.
I love cricket. I’ve loved it and followed it for decades. The game is bigger than you, bigger than Australia, bigger than yesterday. I’ve seen cricket go through plenty of scandals in the past, and it will survive this one too. But you need to know, this hurts.
I wish you could see my son.
An Aussie cricket fan and father.