The independent voice of cricket


Did Tim Bresnan stop Steve Smith from playing for England over Australia?

by Ryan Smart 3 minute read

On a recent episode of The Grade Cricketer Podcast, Steve Smith told the story of how Tim Bresnan once rejected his request to play county cricket.

The former Yorkshire captain was playing in Sydney when he was approached by Smith, who was four years his junior.

Bresnan previously claimed that he rebuffed an attempt by Smith – who held an English passport – to play for Yorkshire, instead offering to give him some of his kit instead.

“He’d scored a few in second grade and got in because one of the lads, as they do at that level, had just gone on holiday or whatever,” Bresnan said in 2019. “He came in, got 70-odd and was difficult to dislodge. He played for the rest of the season. He was predominantly a leg-spinner. That’s how he made his way into the game and the Test team.

“He said, ‘Hey, can I come and play for Yorkshire?’. I was like, ‘Woah, hold your horses big lad. We’re full up and you’re not that good yet. Just grab yourself a couple of bats out of my kit bag and score some runs’. You could definitely tell he would do alright as a cricketer. But no way could you say that he’d score with the consistency he is doing at the moment.”

It is a story that Smith picked up on the podcast.

“I don’t know about playing for England, but I was trying to get a county gig, that’s for sure,” he explained.

“I did have an English passport, my mum’s English, so that was my way in the door. But yeah, I was trying to do whatever I could really to leave school and try and pursue a career in cricket and yeah, obviously [Bresnan] didn’t rate me too highly back then!”

When pressed further, Smith continued: “Yeah, I remember having a chat with him, saying ‘yeah, I’d like to come over, maybe start me in some second team cricket if you can,’ probably a bit ahead of myself. But I was just trying to get better as a cricketer and have some experiences.

“I remember I went on a tour when I was 16 with a New South Wales Under 17s and 19s tour – we played against some county academies and stuff, and just loved it. I thought it was magnificent, so I kind of wanted to just go and try and play some county cricket and just progress my skills. Yeah, he didn’t rate me, so I didn’t get an opportunity.”

Smith would have to wait around two years to make his first team bow, with New South Wales handing him a List A debut in 2007, at the age of 18. By 22, he was representing Australia in a Test series against Pakistan.

It’s hard not to wonder what might have transpired had Bresnan been a bit more forthcoming. Had Smith become embedded in the Yorkshire system, is it inconceivable to think he might have ended up playing for England rather than Australia? The likes of Sam Robson and Sam Hain have trod a similar path since, from Australian age-group systems to England recognition. Smith was non-committal when asked about the possibility of potentially playing for England on the podcast, but unlikely doesn’t mean impossible. Perhaps it’s best not to think about it.

In any case, it’s fair to say that Smith bounced back strongly from Bresnan’s rejection. A county cricket stint is probably off the cards for the time being, but you can guarantee that nowadays, Yorkshire would be more willing to accommodate the number one ranked Test batsman if the opportunity arose.

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