Former England batsman Robin Arnold Smith, born September 13, 1963, was a ferocious cutter and puller of the cricket ball. Smith was nicknamed Judge as he once sported long hair. He was also called Judgie. He was born to English parents in Durban. His older brother Chris Smith had represented Natal before migrating to England, for whom he played 8 Tests. Senior Smith was quite a character. In Durban, there was a house for sale next to the Smith s. Smith Sr bought it, knocked it down and built a cricket pitch. Barry Richards and Mike Procter, who lived nearby, would come down and practice their cricket. The Smiths were fortunate to own a bowling machine. Therefore, young Robin played good pace early on, something that went on to be his strength later on.
Growing up in South Africa during the apartheid era meant a bleak cricketing future for the highly talented Smith. He was roped in for Natal at 16 but signed up for Hampshire a year later. While Procter wanted him to go and play for his county Gloucestershire, Richards suggested him his county Hampshire. Robin eventually followed elder brother Chris footsteps to join Hampshire. In years to come he became an all-time great at the club.
Smith made a strong impact in the Benson & Hedges Cup in 1988. Shortly after that he was picked for the fourth Test against West Indies at Leeds. Smith scored 38 and 11. West Indies won by 10 wickets and sealed the series. A few weeks later Smith got his ODI cap, he did not make an impact as he scored only 9.
Smith, who cherished playing the fearsome West Indian pacers. In the 19 Tests he played against West Indies, he amassed 1,333 runs at 44.43. Few of his best knocks have come against West Indies. The 1994 St John’s Test will be remembered best for Brain Lara’s record-breaking 375 but Smith top-scored for England with 175. However, his most brutal knock against West Indies came three years prior, when he smashed 148 not out at Lord’s. Smith averages close to 45 against Pakistan in Tests, another side with a fantastic pace line-up. In ODIs the average touches close to 59.
In the second ODI between England and Australia at Edgbaston in 1993, Smith smashed 167 not out to help England to 277 for 5 in 55 overs. Mark Waugh’s hundred ensured an Australia win but Smith’s score remained the highest score by an English batsman in ODIs for the next 23 years.
Smith amassed 4,236 runs at 43.67 in Test cricket. In ODIs, he scored 2,419 runs at 39.01. With 12,034 runs, he remains Hampshire’s highest run-getter in List A cricket.
After retirement, Smith has now settled down in Perth, Australia, as mentioned above. He helps run Masuri cricket helmets and RS Cricket Clothing. He also runs a coaching academy.