|19 Feb 2020|
|England’s chief national cricket selector and Old Tonbridgian, Ed Smith, took part in Tonbridge School’s Tennant Lecture Series in February. |
In a Q&A with the Headmaster, James Priory, he shared his views on failure and luck in sport and in life, reflecting on his time at Tonbridge as a pupil.
Smith became England's chief national cricket selector in 2018 and has recently founded the Institute of Sports Humanities with fellow OT, Sir Anthony Seldon. As national selector, the squad he picked won the Cricket World Cup in July 2019.
“I don’t have a craving to be liked by the players: it was never my aspiration to be liked. My aspiration is to serve the England team, make the right decisions and do the best job I can,” he told the audience.
“I’m incredibly lucky to have a job like this, that I love, and I’m at ease with taking risks," he added. "The worst aspect, if there is one, is the accountability, and that’s where I really earn the salary. When things go wrong, people want someone to blame, and I’m comfortable with that someone being me.”
Ed’s appearance at Tonbridge came on the eve of the announcement of the England Test squad to face Sri Lanka in March, and he was asked for his views on Zak Crawley, another Tonbridge pupil who has recently progressed to the England side. “Zak came into a team (on the South Africa tour) that was hit by illness and injury,” he said.
“We decided to play some younger players and invest in the future, and suddenly the whole mood of the tour changed. For the Second Test we chose five players who were 24 or younger, and they brought a great energy on to the field. Ultimately, we are looking for players who show great character as well as having the quality needed, and it was clear to me for some time that Zak could do very well.” England won the Test series in South Africa 3-1.
Ed also paid tribute to his school. “I think I was incredibly fortunate to come here, not just because of the sport I played and the teachers and coaches I had, but because there were so many opportunities. I was involved with everything from public speaking and debating to acting and directing house plays. It’s hard to recall exactly how I felt at 13 when I arrived here, but when I left I knew I wanted to lead an interesting life.”
Listen to Ed Smith's Tennant Lecture talk below: