Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Smit deal an inspired signing

Last September, in a post entitled 'Smit double century as Seconds draw' I suggested that South African Daryn Smit would be a worthy addition to the Derbyshire staff, after three innings in which he scored 269 runs for once out.

Today we learned that he has signed a two-year deal with the county, one that could be both shrewd and very important to our prospects for the season ahead.

Smit may not have played international cricket, but his increasingly impressive statistics back home suggest a man who could easily have done so. A lack of a regular place early in his career hindered his development, but in recent winters in South Africa's top tier he has averaged between forty and fifty-plus, the hallmark of a very good player.

Then there are his extraordinary statistics for Ramsbottom in the Lancashire League, where he has been professional for three seasons:

2016 - batting average 86 and 69 wickets at 8.1
2015 - batting average 98 and 65 wickets at 7.75
2014 - batting average 61 and 88 wickets at 7.2

Cynics will say 'that's only league cricket' and no, I don't expect Smit to replicate such statistics in the county game. I do, however, see him as a very important cog in a batting line-up that misfired too often last year.

I have played with and against some very good professionals over the years, some of who struggled with the weight of responsibility, the sense of expectation and the need to be a leader and mentor every time they went on the pitch. Everyone on the opposition ups their game when the pro comes in, while his own team look to the paid man to win them matches. Smit has done that many times and to be hailed as a club's 'greatest-ever professional', when many great names have trod that sward before, is some accolade.

His ability to bat anywhere from three to six in the order will be important, but we have also recruited a man with a successful record as captain and a reputation for taking his responsibilities seriously. The articles in South African newspapers since his retirement from the game there was announced all refer to his being missed as both a leader and a man, no mean testimonial for anyone.

With two excellent wicket-keepers on the staff, Smit may not be seen too often behind the stumps, but he is a more than handy option should they need to switch things around. Were Gary Wilson away with Ireland and Harvey Hosein injured or out of touch, there's a plan C available, one that would enable the fielding of an extra batsman or bowler and avoid a panicked search around other counties. Given that several good judges had him as a strong contender to replace Mark Boucher as South African keeper, he is unlikely to let us down, if required.

Likewise, with two leg-spinners on the staff we may not see him turn his arm over too regularly, but he is a very handy option, if only to offer a little variation if things aren't going our way. With over a hundred first-class wickets, he is some way from an occasional bowler and has won first-class matches with inspired last-day spells.

What we have, most definitely, is a man who gets his head down, works hard and will sell his wicket dearly, unless in the pursuit of a win, when his selfless reputation precedes him. His experience on northern English wickets will stand him in good stead and he will be well aware of how those wickets change as the summer goes on. They will doubtless enjoy him on Radio Derby too, as his occasional commentary work back home has gained plenty of admirers for an articulate man who has earned the nickname 'Speech'.

Derbyshire has had wonderful service from South Africans over the years. Eddie Barlow, Peter Kirsten, Adrian Kuiper, Daryll Cullinan, Charl Langeveldt  - each left a major impression on the local cricketing landscape. That's not including Wayne Madsen, another who swapped Durban for Derbyshire and has gone on to be one of our greatest cricketing sons. Come to think of it, Wayne was 'plucked' from the Lancashire League too, so there's a pretty decent precedent in the acquisition of Daryn Smit.

There'll be a lot of South African accents in Derbyshire colours this year. Wayne Madsen, Daryn Smit, Hardus Viljoen, Imran Tahir; that's a solid and impressive core to any side and each will be keen to impress and make the major contribution. Don't bet against the new guy being very firmly in the mix.

Welcome to Derbyshire, Daryn.

Let the good times roll...


Knack said...

You obviously haven't heard tahir speak peakfan, Durban by way of Karachi

Peakfan said...

As you might expect Knack. But still a hint of Durban...

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog Peakfan but sadly im going to have to completley disagree with you here, indeed about most of Derbyshires winter recruitment.Its sad to see Derbyshire go down the o/s route again (Viljoen, Madsen, Wilson, Smit, plus the official o/s, half a team with 0 prospect of playing for England, and no Madsen will not as he's too old and hasnt been anymore than a good, but not dominant, county level player), so much for the counties exisiting to produce England talent. When did Derbyshire last produce an england player or even lions player? Just fuels the argument of those saying there are too many counties and that some are not exisisting for the benefit of Team England, so thus should be removed from the 1st class game. Even more worryingly (and its also somewhat ironic (sadly)) that Derbyshire are spending the money they will be getting for supporting (mark my words) the franchise T20 competion on overseas mercenaries, a terrible short sighted decison that will ultimately cost them their existence as they have been bought off by the ecb who's aim is to get away from 18 counties. Short term gain in signing these mercenaries on these pieces of silver will ultimately lead to a minor county status as Derbyshire do not have the gumption to oppose the idiot Graves. Sad times.

Non Test match fan

Peakfan said...

Well you got it right Anon. I disagree with you
I assume you are not a Derbyshire fan and have a right to an opinion. However to class Wilson as an overseas player is incorrect as he is no more so than Porterfield, O'Brien et al.
You also miss totally the point that these pros have been brought in for their mentoring value on young players and academy. They will be here while their returns offer value and will then likely be replaced by local lads brought through a robust academy system that prepares them for the first class game.
Our commercial activity...not ECB money..has funded these players and if you think we are less vulnerable with eleven local lads getting hammered every week than with 2/3 selected senior players you are kidding yourself.
We make a small profit each year and will have 2 Lions at least in the next 3 years.
Be very sure that should the wolfman come knocking it will be at several doors before us. And if we do more than just make up the numbers, our position is strengthened still further.
Different viewpoints...

Peakfan said...

Non Test Match Fan - I am more than happy to discuss your thoughts and comments but not on a public forum, such as this.

By all means email me and I will reply