Collie Smith in 1957
|Full name||O'Neil Gordon Smith|
5 May 1933|
Boys Town, Kingston, Jamaica
|Died||9 September 1959
Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England
|Test debut (cap 86)||26 March 1955 v Australia|
|Last Test||31 March 1959 v Pakistan|
|Domestic team information|
Source: CricketArchive, 4 September 2009
In his third first-class match, he hit 169 for Jamaica against the touring Australians in 1954–55, and was immediately included in the side for the First Test. He started his Test career scoring 104 on debut against Australia. But after a "pair" in the next match, he was dropped. He returned for the Fourth and Fifth Tests, and finished the series with 206 runs at 25.75 and 5 wickets at 68.00.
He toured New Zealand in 1955–56, scoring 64 in the First Test and putting on 162 for the fourth wicket with Everton Weekes in 100 minutes. He was less successful with the bat in the next three Tests, finishing the series with 78 runs at 15.60, but his off-spin brought 13 wickets at 18.53, including 2 for 1 and 4 for 75 in the Second Test.
In England in 1957, he scored 161 in the First Test and 168 in the Third Test, once driving Brian Statham into the car park. He was chosen as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year; in his citation he was praised for his batting, bowling, and "magnificent fielding".
In 1957–58 he made 283 runs at 47.16 and took 13 wickets at 38.00 against Pakistan in the West Indies. In India in 1958–59 he scored 287 runs at 35.87 and took 9 wickets at 29.66. In the Fifth Test at Delhi he scored 100 and took 3 for 94 and 5 for 90. In the three Tests in Pakistan he was less successful, scoring 81 runs at 16.20 and taking 3 wickets at 20.00.
The accident happened at 4:45am on 7 September, while he was travelling with his West Indian team-mates Garry Sobers and Tom Dewdney. They were driving to London to attend a charity match, Sobers being the driver. The trip had already been delayed because of the traffic. The car ran into a 10-ton cattle truck driven by a Mr. Andrew Saunders. The accident happened on the A34 near Stone in Staffordshire.
Smith was sleeping in the back seat and was thrown forward. His injuries seemed minor initially and Smith even told Sobers, in reference to Dewdney, "Don't worry about me. Look after the big fellow." But his spine was injured badly and he soon went into a coma. He died without regaining consciousness three days later. His body was taken to Jamaica where 60,000 people attended the funeral. His tombstone in Jamaica's May Pen Cemetery is engraved: "Keen Cricketer, Unselfish Friend, Worthy Hero, Loyal Disciple, Happy Warrior." Sobers and Dewdney were not seriously injured, suffering lacerations and bruises.
Sobers was issued with a notice of intended prosecution. On 11 November at Stone Magistrates' Court, Sobers was found guilty of careless driving. The prosecutor said that Sobers had failed to take a bend and was in collision with a cattle truck travelling in the opposite direction. Sobers was fined £10 with £16 17s costs and had his licence suspended for a month. Sobers pleaded not guilty, claiming that he had been dazzled by oncoming headlights..
A biography titled The Happy Warrior was written by Ken Chaplin a year after Smith's death. He had the nicknames "Mighty Mouse" and "Wayside Preacher" because he liked reading the lesson in church.
The road passing Boys Town Club in Trench Town, Smith's birthplace, is named Collie Smith Drive in his memory.
- Wisden 1958, p. 60.
- Wisden 1956, p. 863.
- Wisden 1957, pp. 829–38.
- Wisden 1958, p. 59.
- Wisden 1959, pp. 805–6.
- Burnley CC history and honours
- "A South African great arrives". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- "Three West Indian cricketers hurt - Car crash: O.G. Smith "critical"". The Times. 7 September 1959. p. 10.
- "Six sportsmen injured in road accidents". The Glasgow Herald. 7 September 1959. p. 1.
- Dewdney reflects on Collie Smith's life Retrieved 8 May 2013
- "News in brief - Prosecution notice on cricketer". The Times. 12 September 1959. p. 10.
- "West Indian cricketer fined - Chairman refers to a "disastrous episode"". The Times. 12 November 1959. p. 16.
- Garry Sobers and Brian Scovell, Twenty Years at the Top
- Christopher Martin-Jenkins, The Complete Who's Who of Test Cricketers