SPORTS

Devon Smith – The Comeback Kid

Devon Smith has been playing first class cricket since 1998, racking up a total of 193 first class games. He played the first of his 38 test matches in 2002 and the last in 2015.

He has an underwhelming average of 24. 5 in test cricket, with just one century and six half-centuries in 67 innings. Smith, however, has been batting exceptionally well in the last few years in the regional four-day cricket competition with some mind-boggling returns, especially in the recently concluded 2017-2018 competition.

Considering the poor performance of the current crop of West Indian opening batsmen, there is a growing clamor to draft Devon Smith into the West Indian test team for one last time; I will examine the merits and demerits of this argument.

In the 2017 -2018 Four-day West Indies Professional League, Devon Smith scored 1095 runs in 18 innings with six centuries and a half-century at an astounding average of 84.23. He was by far the best batsman in the competition, outscoring the next best batsman by almost 300 runs – Dinesh Ramdin was second best with 799 runs.

Smith’s returns in this tournament are among the best in the history of the fifty-one (51) year old regional cricket competition. The sheer weight of his runs provides a compelling case for him to be pivoted into the West Indian team.

In fact, based on current form, none of the batsmen in the test team deserves a spot more than Smith. The team has been losing test matches badly due to batsmen not producing runs consistently, the addition of Devon Smith who is in the form of his life will surely not make the batting situation any worse.

Drafting Devon Smith into the test team will result in an injection of experience that is severely lacking in the team environment, especially with the experienced duo of Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo out of the team.

The younger players could learn from Smith’s vast experience which would help to boost their confidence, thus impacting their game positively and by extension the performance of the team.

Devon Smith is a versatile batsman who can bat anywhere from 1 to 6 in the team. He has however been most successful as an opening batsman and probably should replace Kieran Powell in this position.

Powell has not made the position his own with some underwhelming performances in his career and a below-par average of 27.

Now, some might argue that Smith averages less than Powell in test cricket but based on current form I would go with Smith, if he can reproduce this form in test matches, the West Indian team would be much more competitive.

That said, Smith has done well in the regional competition in the past and drafted in the West Indies team on that basis and failed. He has not proven himself as a performer at the test level which is undoubtedly something that the West Indian selectors would consider before picking him for the team.

Smith, at thirty-six-years old, is in the twilight of his career and consequently may not get a look in as the selectors have been focused on harnessing young talents with an eye on the future instead of just picking the best eleven players in the region regardless of their ages.

In the final analysis, Devon Smith’s superlative performance in the recently concluded Four-Day competition has shown that he is still one of the best batsmen in the region and deserves to be given another chance at the test level.

Whether he is granted another comeback is entirely in the hands of the selectors, and we can only wait to see what they will do!

Readers Bureau, Contributor

Edited by Jesus Chan

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