Smith, Lumb Remind Us How Fleeting Careers Can Be
Nottinghamshire were dealt a double blow earlier this week when batsmen Greg Smith and Michael Lumb both announced their immediate retirement from professional cricket.
Whilst Lumb was forced to hang up his spikes due to injury, Smith opted to begin the next chapter in his life by pursuing an opportunity away from cricket.
But at 37 and 28 respectively, both still have the majority of their working lives ahead of them.
There was perhaps a unique sense of timing that this double retirement came in the same week that it was announced that the state pension age would be raised to 68 from 2037 – 7 years earlier than originally planned – with both Lumb and Smith set to be affected by the change, along with countless others living and working in Britain today.
It is not just a stark reminder of how the world is changing around us, with people living longer and greater impetus placed on the importance and cost of pensions, but also how brief a professional sportsman’s career really is in the grand scheme of things.
There will be those who go on to make a living from cricket their whole lives –
either as coaches, officials, administrators or in the media – but others will not, and the past seven days have highlighted another important aspect of a cricketers life: what happens next.
Whilst Zafar Ansari’s decision to retire earlier this year was met with a mixture of shock and understanding, with Ansari well placed to excel in whatever field he opts to turn his hand to, for others it is not so simple and Nick Hoult’s excellent piece for The Daily Telegraph helped bring in to sharp focus the work the PCA have been doing to help both past and present cricketers deal with things off the field.
It is perhaps also a reminder of the value and importance of the MCC Universities and their ability to provide budding cricketers with both an opportunity to play top level cricket (or at least close to) as well as allowing them to continue their education; for not everyone will make it as a professional, and even those that do, like Smith, may find themselves largely on the fringes rather than in the limelight.
Even at the very top level, a long term plan is important – which, again, is where the PCA come in as well as the ECB, the MCC Universities and more; to ensure there is life after cricket.
It is an area of the game seldom thought of and even more rarely discussed in the open. But it is perhaps as vital as anything done on the field.