It’s been the worst year of Steve Smith’s life. Stripped of the coveted Australian cricket captaincy over an ugly ball-tampering incident in March, he lost big-name sponsors and millions in salary.
Yet he has still managed to debut on the 2018 Financial Review Young Rich List, which will be published in The Australian Financial Review Magazine on Friday.
The 29-year-old has an estimated wealth of $27 million, putting him at 95th place. It’s a valuation based largely on his investments outside of cricket: a collection of Sydney investment properties and a 10 per cent slice of an online furniture company founded by two fellow Young Rich Listers, Dany Milham and Mitchell Taylor.
Had it not been for the ball-tampering saga also involving vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, which cost Smith an estimated $5 million to $10 million and triggered a 12-month ban from Cricket Australia, the former captain would have made a substantially higher debut. Warner, who also has several investment properties, may have even made the cut too – The Australian Financial Review has estimated his wealth at about $17 million, below the $26 million threshold this year.
Smith is not the only other well-known sports star to make his debut this year. Joining him is Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo, the laid-back bloke from Perth who’s created a signature podium move called “the shoey” (where he drinks Champagne from his racing boot). Ricciardo, who is based in Monaco, has an estimated fortune of $34 million, built up from his lucrative earnings from the race track. His wealth is set to be supercharged when he switches teams to Renault next year with a two-year deal reportedly worth $70 million over two years.
Year of redemption
They join a collection of athletes continuing to enjoy success in their chosen fields – former NBA star turned Sydney Kings recruit Andrew Bogut, golfers Adam Scott and Jason Day and Socceroo Tim Cahill.
None of them have had to face a year of redemption like Smith.
Former Australian cricketer Shane Warne on Monday told ABC’s 7.30 that while Australians were disappointed and embarrassed by the scandal, Smith made “a silly mistake and an error in judgment” and the country was too quick to “hang people and just nail them”.
“He’s a wonderful captain, he’s a great player. He just made a silly mistake and I don’t think the punishment fits the crime. Twelve-month ban for that? Equate to about an $8 [million], $10 million fine.
“So I thought they were very, very hard done by and it was a very harsh penalty. But having said that, we hated it and we didn’t like it and they have to earn our respect back.”
This week Smith was at Parramatta Marist High School in Sydney’s west, talking to young boys about what he went through in the fallout from the ball-tampering incident and how important it was to have supportive people around him during that time.
The talks are part of a program run by Gotcha4Life, a foundation started by Triple M radio personality Gus Worland and backed by Hollywood star Hugh Jackman, that aims to save lives by improving the mental health of men and boys. Smith is now an ambassador.
He also donated his $100,000 contract fee (minus tax obligations) from Canada’s T20 tournament to grassroots cricket organisations.
Yet off the field, his investments have put him in relatively good shape.
He owns six homes across Sydney, bought between 2011 and May 2017, stretching from Sydney’s beachside Coogee to Marrickville in the inner west. Property prices began falling in mid-last year but over the past five years prices have risen about 70 per cent.
Smith also owns a 10 per cent stake in Koala, an online furniture business he invested in about three years ago as he searched for start-ups to back. The company, which he has acted as an adviser to, promises to deliver its Brisbane-made Koala foam mattresses or sofas to consumers within four hours.
The ban cost Smith his place as the world’s best test batsman, a position now held by India’s Virat Kohll.