The next time a cricketer talks about seizing their opportunities they could easily refer to the story of Steve Smith in 2013.
To say Smith has enjoyed a charmed run this year would not be entirely accurate as that would imply he has succeeded purely with luck but there can be no doubt the 24-year-old has made the most of his good fortune this year. Smith started the year developing his game with NSW and Sydney Sixers but will finish it having established himself as a long-term Test player.
Along the way have been a chain of unrelated events that Smith was able to turn in his favour through good form and being in the right place at the right time. He won selection for the ill-fated tour of India due in small part to his Shield form but also on the belief his game would be ideally suited to the spin-friendly wickets of the subcontinent. Even then he was selected as a spare batsman and started the tour behind Usman Khawaja in the pecking order.
It was not until Khawaja was suspended for not completing a set task in what came to be known as the homework-gate scandal in Mohali that Smith was able to play his first Test since the end of the 2010 Ashes series.
Despite being one of very few batsmen to show any fight in India, Smith was shelved for the Ashes. Then came his next lucky break. Concerns over the fitness of Michael Clarke combined with David Warner's suspension leading into the Ashes forced selectors to place a batsman on standby. Smith received the nod after blazing a century for Australia A and edged past the unlucky Khawaja again with a strong tour match before the first Test. He has not missed a Test since and scored his first two centuries.
Smith said he was yet to reflect on what he described as an amazing year. "To be part of the Ashes series in England was amazing, we didn't have the result we would have liked," Smith said.
Smith said he did not think at the start of the year he would finish 2013 as the Test No.5. "I was just thinking about scoring as many runs as I could for NSW and trying to win games for them," Smith said. "By doing that, you put your name up there if you're scoring the big runs. I was lucky enough to be on the A tour and do well there and then draft my way into the team."
Smith said the tour of India was a major factor in his development. "To go to India as well was an amazing experience and something I think was one of the biggest learning curves, just training hard over there and facing all those spinners in the nets and all those mystery spinners that they have running around. To do that was probably where my game started to learn a bit more against spin and I think I've progressed a lot from there. It's been a big year for me."