Smith surprised by his key role

Will Smith Pictures: Dave Vokes/LMI Photography
Will Smith Pictures: Dave Vokes/LMI Photography
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Will Smith admits his elevation to one of Hampshire’s key weapons has even taken him by surprise.

The 31-year-old joined the club from Durham over the winter and was regarded as a top-order Championship batsman to help their four-day quest.

But while his t20 opportunities were limited at his former county, he has emerged as an excellent addition to the shortest format – and as a spin bowler.

Smith said: ‘I had hoped my bowling would be a part of the team’s t20 campaign but I didn’t expect it at all.

‘I was probably lucky in some respects, although it was unlucky for the team that Daws (Liam Dawson)got injured early on and I was forced into a more prominent role with the ball than I probably would have been.

‘Every opportunity you get, you have to try to excel at what you’re doing.

‘I am confident in my own ability, whether I bat, bowl or field.

‘If people see me doing well and appreciate it, then that’s great.

‘I know I’m doing everything I possibly can.’

Smith believes taking the prized scalp of his skipper, James Vince has also played a part in his rise that has seen him collect 17 wickets in the competition – just four behind leading wicket-taker, Danny Briggs.

He said: ‘It’s great that Vincey has had the confidence in me to do it.

‘I played against him in a one-day game last year and I actually got him out stumped in the first over.

‘So maybe he has good memories of that and thinks I’m some sort of mystery spinner!

‘My bowling has definitely improved this year just because I have had an opportunity to do it more and more.

‘It’s like in any kind of cricket, the more you do it and the more you are exposed to situations, the more you are going to improve.

‘I haven’t bowled a huge amount of overs before and that’s probably the reason why I have improved.

‘It’s something I never really got at Durham because the wickets up there are more suited to seamers.

‘They never quite had a philosophy that seemed to work for them in one-day cricket and that never seemed to involve me.

‘It’s great that I am at a club now and the way we play one-day cricket seems to suit my kind of bowling.

‘But I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

‘If you can’t enjoy that format of cricket, you shouldn’t be playing the game.’

Smith added: ‘It will be my third finals day but I haven’t won one yet.

‘I had one at Durham and we lost against Middlesex and we made the final when I was at Notts.

‘Hopefully, it’s third time lucky.’