Ed Smith

Ed Smith

Writer & National Cricket Selector


During his professional cricketing career Ed scored six centuries in a single month, including an innings of 203. He went on to captain Middlesex and represent England, until injury ended his career. He’s since become a Times feature writer and author of books about the lessons we can draw from sport - and the importance of luck. In speeches Ed explains why pep talks can sometimes be counter-productive, why amateurism is good (if it means having fun) and why luck should be recognised for what it is.


After his talent with a cricket bat was spotted at Cambridge, Ed signed for his home county. In just one month with Kent he scored six centuries - including an innings of 203. He went on to captain Middlesex and represent England, becoming a popular and highly respected figure.

When an ankle injury forced his retirement from the first class game Ed replaced bat with pen, following in the footsteps of his novelist father Jonathan. While living for a year in New York he wrote Playing Hard Ball, comparing cricket and baseball and their relationship with national myth and identity. He followed this with On and Off the Field and What Sport Tells Us About Life - an exploration of the role of sport, its psychological and cultural effects and the moral lessons it teaches us. He then published Luck: A Fresh Look At Fortune, an examination of what is often assumed to be down to good or bad fortune, and the role in does and does not play in achievement.

Ed speakers about promoting change by winning over the waverers, rather than wasting too much time on intransigent opponents. He encourages an inquisitive attitude, to ensure continual improvement. “Good teams have to stay light on their feet, always adapting. You can’t afford a mindset of ‘we’ve got this dead right, all we have to do is repeat what we’re doing forever.’” More broadly he looks at what sport really does tell us about teamwork, leadership and achievement (and it’s not always what we think).

Having become a key part of BBC radio’s Test Match Special team, Ed has returned to international cricket as England’s National Selector. He has written the weekly MindGames column in the Daily Telegraph, was a contributing writer for the New Statesman, and as a leader writer for The Times covering anything from education to ‘Renaissance Man.’ He has also presented a series on Peak Performance for Radio 3 and an episode for the BBC’s Inside Sport.

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JLA Speakers Breakfast - May 2011