Will Smith is happy to be Hampshire’s insurance policy after reinventing himself as a t20 cricketer.
The former Durham man has carved out an unexpected niche for himself in the shortest form of the game and is the club’s leading wicket-taker in this year’s Natwest T20 Blast.
I love contributing to the team in any way I possibly canWill Smith
Considering he was never a t20 regular for his previous counties, his four wickets in two games have shown his worth to the side – especially as he is also a recognised batsman coming in down the order.
He collected figures of three for 24 in the home defeat to Kent last Friday and will attempt to help Hampshire bounce back with a trip to Glamorgan tonight.
And Smith has no problem that his off-break bowling has overtaken his batting as a t20 player.
He said: ‘I love contributing to the team in any way I possibly can.
‘It was a bit of an experiment when I first did it last year but it has worked out pretty well.
‘I did it a few times with Durham and I always thought I could play more of a prominent role in t20 cricket.
‘I don’t mind being seen as a bowler – and I still think I can contribute with the bat in t20.
‘I would like to think I will be able to contribute to a winning performance with the bat in maybe three or four t20 games this season.
‘Sometimes you need an innings to be finished off and I still feel I can play a big part with the bat.
‘If the guys are smashing loads of runs at the top and I don’t get in, then that’s fine by me.
‘Sean Ervine and Adam Wheater are great batsmen to come in ahead of me but I can be a bit of a safety net.’
Even at the age of 32, Smith revealed he is learning about the game every day as he tries to outsmart batsmen trying to hit him out of the ground.
Smith said: ‘You are learning something with every game and every ball you bowl.
‘If you don’t learn as you go along, you will die a death pretty quickly because it’s fierce out there.
‘The batters are coming at you for every ball and you have to think of ways to stay one step ahead of them.
‘I’m sure there will come a time when someone gets hold of me and I don’t have the answers.
‘But I’m enjoying the battle and it’s gone pretty well most of the time.’
It also helps that Smith has a specific role in the side, usually bowling the first over and then coming back later in the innings.
And usually batting at number seven allows the power hitters to go for boundaries.
He said: ‘Before I was actually playing t20, I used to practice a lot because I didn’t know what was required.
‘I never really knew how I fitted into the plans.
‘But now I have a specific role, I don’t do a huge amount more practice than I did before, especially with the amount we play over the summer.
‘You do what you need to do but I practice bowling and batting about half and half.
‘And you need to be sharp in the field as well.
‘Every asset you have is vitally important.’