Disgraced Smith a sad sight drinking alone in New York
WHILE his former teammates were being embarrassed by the arch-enemy in England, the one man who might have been able to save the Australian cricket team was forlornly nursing a beer in a dingy New York bar.
Captain-in-exile Steve Smith was spotted in the Big Apple after doing some solitary house hunting as he gets ready for a match of an altogether different calibre.
The world's greatest batsman, banned from top-class cricket for his role in the infamous South African ball-tampering scandal, will now ply his trade a world away from the storeyed grounds of the SCG and Lord's when he pitches up for the Toronto Nationals in the fledgling Global T20 competition, which begins in Canada on Thursday.
Smith, 28, is used to the lonely walk back to the pavilion and he cut a desolate figure as he spent several hours looking at apartments in the celebrity-studded West Village neighbourhood.
"It was an absolute shock to see the former Aussie cricket captain all by himself," an Australian who spotted Smith out and about said.
After scoping real estate, Smith headed to a three-hour evening get together at the same building where Aussie acting royalty Hugh Jackman and wife Deborra-lee Furness share a penthouse apartment with their children.
Later, he walked more than 3km to trendy Tribeca, battling other barflies for a single stool at well-known Irish dive-bar, Nancy Whiskey Pub, drinking three pints of beer and feverishly checking his phone.
Smith remained anonymous at the Irish pub, with drinkers seemingly unaware they had a millionaire sportsman in their midst.
"It was quite raucous but all the fun was happening around him and there was loud rock music playing," a witness said.
"Steve seemed to be content with just himself for company though."
Smith is no stranger to New York having travelled there to join his fiancee Dani Willis in Manhattan in the wake of the ball-tampering saga, where she is building her career as a lawyer.
Ms Willis wasn't with him to check out the Big Apple real estate scene, having headed to Italy for a holiday with a girlfriend, where she is currently living it up on the Amalfi Coast.
She has spent the week posting on Instagram from the $600-a-night Palazzo Avino hotel, which boasts a Michelin-star restaurant and a seaside pool.
Smith and Willis will marry in September and he has publicly thanked her for her support in his recent tough times.
Many thought things couldn't get worse for the Australian cricket team when Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were each suspended over "Sandpapergate" but they reckoned without the team's ability to plum new depths of humiliation.
On Sunday Australia slumped to a humiliating 5-0 defeat in the one-day series against England - the first time the Poms have ever sealed a whitewash.
But with their country desperate for anything to lift the gloom, Smith and Warner will be padding up in the cricket hotbed of Canada.
Smith will join his former teammate Warner - who jetted out from Sydney yesterday - in the Canadian competition.
Former vice-captain Warner, the supposed architect of the ball-tampering disaster, will play with the Winnipeg Hawks for the inaugural tournament.