Robin Smith Biography
Robin Smith was a brutal hitter of the cricket ball, especially when he launched into some of his ferocious square cuts. And his drives were not too far behind in terms of violence and effectiveness.
There were the hordes of intimidating West Indian fast bowlers who made the ball hover round his head. Courtney Walsh even got one to thud into his jaw, inflicting multiple fractures. But Smith hardly ever flinched, and rocked back to send them hurtling through square-leg with cracking hook shots.
He enjoyed his battles with the Caribbean pacemen, scored three hundreds against them and eight fifties. Against West Indians he was in phenomenal form in the 1991 series. To gear up for the short and quick stuff he got Devon Malcolm to bowl at him from 19 yards.
Some of the innings he played against high quality bowling were landmark ones, like his 148 against West Indies at Lord’s or the spectacular 167 not out against Australia at Edgbaston which for long stood as the highest individual score for England in ODIs. His cricketing and verbal duels against Merv Hughes have also entered the folklore of the game.
However, for such a superb talent, he was plagued ever so often by self-doubt. And having negotiated the most fearsome fast men with disdain and aplomb, he often struggled against the most docile of spin bowlers.
One of the most successful of the many South Africans who played for England during their isolation, Smith curiously ended his career in his country of birth in 1995-96. He had an unremarkable series against the Proteas, but by no means a poor one. And when he was dropped he averaged 43.67, highest among contemporary English cricketers. He even top-scored with 66 in the first innings of his final Test at Newlands. Yet, his inability to read Paul Adams, especially in the second innings, hastened a collapse and sent him packing —perhaps prematurely — from Test cricket.
After his Test career, Smith served Hampshire with distinction for many a season, ending as one of the most prolific performers of that county.