CRICKET is, to a large degree, River Townsend’s life.
The seven-year-old from Tongala plays for the Mini Blues there, coached by his dad Steve.
But it is his second-favourite Steve that has got the little all-rounder worried.
Because the diminutive River is Steve Smith’s biggest fan and all he cares about is seeing his hero back in the middle – armed with his New Balance bat (the same as the one River wields when he is at the crease).
While most of the sporting world and media have condemned the ball tampering trio of Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, River has never wavered in his support of the former Australian captain.
After suffering on Smith’s behalf during the cricketer’s teary press conference at which he announced he had to accept responsibility for Bancroft performing some DIY repairs to the ball with sandpaper, the little guy thought he needed to do more.
So he decided to write him a letter of support and encouragement – which also included an offer to help Smith keep his eye in during his year out.
“Steve and I were watching the press conference, we had it taped, and he saw it and just ran to his room saying he was going to write him a letter,” River’s mother Amber Townsend said.
She said they had a few goes at a draft copy and when he got his final piece, albeit with a few spelling mistakes, they sent it off.
This is what he came up with:
Hi Steve I am River and I am 7. I know you’re realy Sad and Sorry. I can’t wait to see you bat in 12 month’s time. If you want me to bowl you some leggies just yell out. Remember when you made 687 runs in the Ashes? I do and it was awsome. I hope time comes quick and you’re back playing for the Aussies. You are still my favourite player. I have the same New Balance bat as you. I play Mini Blues at the Tongala Cricket Club. From River.
River sent the letter off to the Australian Cricket Association based in Melbourne and is hoping for it to arrive in the coming days.
His mother said River has always held Smith as one of his cricketing idols.
“For as long as I can remember, he has loved Steve Smith.
“He had been asking for his New Balance bat, just like Smith, for a long time and last Christmas he got that, he doesn’t put it down.”
Amber said while she often tries to shield River from what is going on in the media, he has full comprehension of what occurred in South Africa.
“We think if he can learn something from it then that would be great.”
If River can forgive his idol, it might not be too long until the rest of the country does as well.