Steve Smith spent over an hour signing autographs and posing for photos on Sunday afternoon.
Steve Smith spent over an hour signing autographs and posing for photos on Sunday afternoon.

How Steve Smith is winning back the fans

AT 6.42pm on Monday an email arrives at NSW Cricket headquarters in Moore Park.

The name in the subject line is Steve Smith.

Each week Cricket NSW gets the standard feedback from the suburban grounds about issues on umpiring, pitch conditions and the players.

Not all of it is as positive as this particular one from Manly cricket President Andrew Fraser.

An absolutely glowing account of the suspended Australian cricket captain's contribution to grassroots cricket on Sunday afternoon at Manly Oval.

How he smashed a quick fire 40 for Sutherland in a T20 game against Manly then spent the rest of the innings with the fans.

"He sat on an Esky in the sun for over an hour, posing for photos, signing autographs for people of all ages - young kids to grandparents," Fraser wrote.

"The queue seemed never-ending. He was engaged with everyone, was genuine, humble and every person who met him left with a huge smile on their face."

After the game Fraser invited Smith to the official match-day function.

"It was Ladies Day and we had 130 people in the VIP area along with our sponsors," Fraser wrote.

"Once again Steve accommodated everyone's requests for photos/selfies and autographs - all done with a smile on his face for the duration of the afternoon - nothing was too hard for him."

 

 

Steve Smith and Shane Watson pose for photos at Manly.
Steve Smith and Shane Watson pose for photos at Manly.

 

All this while the Australian cricket team was getting towelled up by South Africa in Perth.

Manly's major sponsor Tony Johnson later invited Smith and the Sutherland players to dinner.

"The guy is an absolute legend," Fraser said, "There were 3rd and 4th grade players around the table hanging off every word. We had a few drinks and a great night out."

Meanwhile the calls continue for Smith to be recalled to the struggling Australian team.

His popularity with the Australian cricket public has not only survived the sandpaper scandal but even grown since the teary press conference on his return to Australia.

 

Steve Smith signs autographs for kids during the game at Manly. Picture: Jenny Evans
Steve Smith signs autographs for kids during the game at Manly. Picture: Jenny Evans

 

 

In online polls more than 70 per cent of fans have called for his immediate reinstatement.

Sutherland coach, former Test and NSW wicket keeper and Steve Rixon, says he is not surprised.

"It's been a pleasure to have him around grade cricket again," Rixon said.

"He's been a major inspiration to our young players and our culture is thriving under him.

"What people appreciate is that Steve has embraced the mistake he made.

"He was never going to walk away and sulk for 12 months. That's not his go.

"I'm really proud how he's managed to turn it into a positive with his contribution to the community."

 

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