“Having already failed in the first innings of the Port of Spain Test, Smith’s time might already be running out. Smith will know that and will look to resurrect his international career in the next few innings”.
After a gap of 3 years, Devon Smith faced his first ball in Test cricket in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Port of Spain on Wednesday. Smith, playing his 39th Test has made many comebacks into this West Indies side and at the age of 36, this could be his final chance to prove that he belongs at the highest level. He scores run at a canter at the domestic level, but has not been able to transform his good showing at the Test level. Of course, he is not the first cricketer in the world, who has not been able to make this transformation.
Smith was initially picked in the West Indies Test squad in March 2002 as a 20-year old, after an impressive show in the Busta Cup, in which he finished as the leading run-getter with 750 runs at 62.50, which included a hundred and 7 fifties. However, he had to wait a further year to make his Test debut and it came against the mighty Aussies in 2003. He scored a valiant 62, against the bowling attack consisting of Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie and Stuart MacGill.
He got a pair in the next Test, but his next 4 innings read, 59, 5, 37 and 23 as Australia walked away with the series.
He was dropped and was picked as an opener for England’s visit and that immediately paid rewards. Smith’s biggest moment in Tests, came when he slammed his maiden hundred against England at Jamaica in March 2004. ‘One of many’ one hoped, however, an injury forced him to miss the final two Tests. In a team consisting of heavyweights like Brian Lara, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Smith could have been the one who could have further solidified the batting unit. Instead, the southpaw failed to keep his place in the Windies side, owing to inconsistent performances with the bat.
Despite being dropped after England’s visit in 2015, Smith did not lose hope. He backed his abilities, scored big at the domestic level for Windward Islands and is back in the Test team once again.
Smith has a terrific hand-eye coordination, which makes up for his lack of footwork. There is nothing flashy about him, but his shots certainly are soothing to watch. A compact player, with all the shots in the book, Smith has outscored most of the younger players in First-Class cricket over the years and kept knocking on the selectors’ doors.
In fact, In the last three seasons, Smith has scored 2,425 runs, however his 1,095 runs at 84.23 in the 2017-18 season warranted him a place in the West Indies squad for the Sri Lanka series. We have in the past seen some of the brightest talents fade away at the international level despite being a powerhouse at the domestic level and Bravo will hope that he does not join that unfortunate list.
The ongoing series against Sri Lanka and the two-match Test series against Bangladesh could be Smith’s last chance to prove his mettle. The West Indies side, who are relatively a young side, might lose patience with Smith otherwise. If the past is anything to go by, Smith will fight hard to keep his spot in the Test side.
A team which is still in its transitional stage, with 2 or maybe 3 players assured of a place in the XI, Smith’s selection could be a short-term one, given his age and his history of blowing opportunities that have come his way. However, that should not take away from the fact that he still may have 2 to 3 years left in him, but the selectors will have an eye on him. If he manages to impress, he might be given a longer rope this time, but if he fades away like he is known to, we might have heard the last of Devon Smith and his international career that promised so much.
Having already failed in the first innings of the Port of Spain Test, Smith’s time might already be running out. Smith will know that and will look to resurrect his international career in the next few innings