By Sean Devers
On Thursday January 9 at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, 24-year-old Berbician Nial Smith joined Kevin Darlington and Romario Shepherd as fast bowlers from Tucber Park (Formerly Bermine) to play First-Class Cricket when he made his debut against the Leewards in the first round of 2020 CWI Regional Four-Day Tournament.
This game, a Day/Night encounter, was played with a pink ball and Smith, the son of Guyana’s most successful three-day youth Coach, Albert Smith, dismantled the Leewards batting with 6-65 from 16 impressive overs on his debut to become the first Guyanese pacer to capture six wickets in his first bowl in a Regional First-Class match.
Ironically, the first Day/Night First-Class ‘Pink ball’ game in the West Indies began on January 15, 2010 when Guyana opposed T&T in Antigua on this very ground.
Jaguars Head Coach Esuan Crandon bowled the first ball in that match which, ended in a draw but Smith said he found no big difference with the Pink ball and Red or White ones.
After bowling with frightening pace in the CGI local 50 over Franchise, the slimly build Smith was rewarded with a Super50 pick last November.
But despite not setting Trinidad on fire in the Super50, Smith, an intelligent young man and a fast leaner, bowled with incisive pace in the practice matches at Providence to earn a maiden call-up for the five-times defending Champions.
With Shepherd, Ronsford Beaton and Keemo Paul unavailable, the lively Smith, also a competent lower order batsman, was given a chance and he grabbed it with both hands.
Smith informed that getting a six-wicket haul on debut felt great. “I couldn’t ask for a better performance starting my first ever first class game. I’m happy with this start and hope I’ll continue to shine throughout and help us win a sixth straight title,” Smith said.
The quickie explained the team’s plan for him to bowl and informed that when Guyana started to bowl, the night conditions were very much situated for fast bowling.
“The ball was carrying a bit more at pace so it was just for me to follow the team plan which was to hit good areas and bowl close as possible to the batsman,” explained Smith, who was born on October 22, 1995 at the New Amsterdam Hospital.
Smith grew up in Tucber Park where he started playing for Tucber Park Cricket Club at age six and was asked what he did different from the Super50 tournament.
“I think I trained much harder coming into this four-day tournament which led to my success in the practice game and now this first game for the Jaguars. In the Super50 I was a bit nervous and wasn’t mentally prepared… I guess,” Smith replied.
Smith informed that his goal is to try and play all the games and take every game one at a time and keep taking wickets.
“I wanna take at least five wickets against all the teams I play against,” disclosed Smith who says he wants to play both four-day and 50-overs formats.
I work on my batting, but focus on how to improve my bowling. I believe batting is a talent and a skill and it also has a lot to do with self believe and mind. But I always believe I could handle myself with the bat,” Smith stated.
“I started to get away to go to the cricket field to train since I was little and since then I haven’t turned back. I’ve always loved cricket plus my dad use to have me around the Guyana National team at a very young age and I’ve always dreamt to play at this level since then,” added Smith.
Smith plays for Lower Corentyne in the CGI’s Franchise league and also plays Club Cricket in Trinidad.
“A lot of people have helped me in a lot of ways… too much to mention. But I’ve taken advice from my dad, the Coaches in the teams I have played for and I’ve worked hard coming into this tournament,” said Smith.
Smith ended by thanking everyone who has given him this opportunity. The selectors, Coaches, his teammates for their support and his dad, whom he says is always there to help and advise him.
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