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Smith back in the runs

Elvis Howard

Smith back in the runs

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Today, MIDWEEK SPORT begins its Sports Personality of the Month where the top Barbadian performer in any sporting discipline for the past month is highlighted. Barbados’ cricketer Dwayne Smith has been chosen for the month of January, 2012.
Dwayne Smith is on a mission! With the ICC Twenty20 World Cup set for Sri Lanka in September, he is determined to be part of the West Indies squad.
By his own admission and with the runs to back it up, the last couple of months have seen him in the best form of his life in what has been a chequered career with ten Tests, 77 One-Day Internationals and ten Twenty20 appearances for the West Indies.
Even though Barbados bowed out of the just-concluded Caribbean Twenty20 competition to rivals Trinidad & Tobago at the semi-final stage, the batting of the “Agent” as he is commonly called was one of the bright sparks.
The energetic all-rounder smashed 165 runs, the third highest overall, at a strike rate of 136.36. His knock of 86 against Jamaica at the North Sound ground in Antigua was the highest individual score of the tournament.
He gave an indication of what was to come with three consecutive half-centuries in a quadrangular warm-up tournament including Trinidad & Tobago and Combined Campuses & Colleges at 3Ws Oval in early January just before the Caribbean Twenty20.
Prior to that, the 28-year-old Smith scored a hundred at the same venue for his club, YMPC against UWI in the local T20 competition. Smith was only the second player after Kirk Gibson to achieve that feat in the four-year history of the Sagicor General-sponsored competition.
Asked about the reason for his purple patch, Smith said: “I have been working extremely hard with Barbados’ batting coach Emmerson Trotman. Trying to understand my role and reducing the risk of getting out. Staying still while at the crease is one of the things I have been concentrating on.”
After a couple years in the wilderness following a Test century on debut, he was given a new lease on life when the West Indies chose him for the two Twenty20 matches against England in London last year.
Things got even better when he was selected to captain West Indies “A’ in the two-match T20 series against Bangladesh last year in the Caribbean. The host drew the series 1-1.
Again he was among the runs scoring 35 and an unbeaten 71 in the final match and he said he enjoyed  the experience of leading the team from the front.
“I like captaining and I was happy to not only get the opportunity but to lead a great group of guys that made it a lot easier,” Smith noted.
On his performance, Smith qualifies to be among those in the reckoning for Sri Lanka but he is quietly confident.
“I just want to keep being consistent, that is the key. I am taking it one tournament at a time. Of course, I want to play for the West Indies again and in another World Cup,” he said.
He was given a push when fellow all-rounder and world re-known T20 specialist Kieron Pollard called for his inclusion for the World Cup.
“I was heartened to hear that from him. Ever since we first played together for the West Indies, we have always had a good relationship,” Smith said.
After Twenty20 stints in England, and in the Indian Premier League, Smith has just been given a chance to participate in the inaugural Bangladesh T20 League within a week’s time. “Hopefully, I can go there and do well and help my team to win, then come back and force myself into the Barbados four-day team,” said Smith, who has seven first-class centuries under his belt.
The West Indies will have five T20 matches prior to the World Cup and after his recent form, one expects Smith to make use of any opportunity given to showcase his all-round ability.
His runs in the T20 format speak volumes. along with his medium-pace bowling and sure-handedness anywhere in the field, his mission is surely not impossible.