The last active series you saw Devon Smith part of was the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Most cricket fans, arguably seven in ten, would remember him as being a truly gifted and swashbuckling stroke-maker, who got off to fluent starts but often failed to convert them in meaningful scores.
The only thing, critically speaking, worth remembering about Devon Smith was perhaps his surname albeit one thinking of which nearly every fan would remember the retired Dwayne Smith. But isn’t Devon to be blamed for that? One can’t remember another top-order cricketer of the West Indies, perhaps with the exception of a Kirk Edwards, who was given as many chances and yet failed to make it count.
In six years the only thing that has changed in Devon Smith’s life is his age. Acerbic view? Probably, but one based on stats. The numbers, it is said, don’t lie.
One is free to form one’s own narrative following Devon Smith’s game. 38 Tests- 1593 runs- 1 century- 6 half centuries and that’s not all. An average of 24. What? 24 for a five-day cricketer who forms the plank of batting!
Devon Smith is quite simply, six years elder and whether mature in the context of the game- we will know for sure in the month of June.
The Sri Lankans under the presence of Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal would be thinking of doing more than just making ends meet as they travel to the West Indies. In fact, a deft hint at mind-games has already begun with the Sri Lankans calling the Caribbean tour an exercise to tick more than one right boxes.
What unfolds for the West Indies in the 3-match series might depend a lot on how they approach their batting. While an immediate respite of breath, rather hope stems from the presence of Shai Hope and Roston Chase being named in the squad, the inclusion of experienced Devon is expected to infuse some caution to the wind.
At first thoughts, the pairing of right-handed Kraigg Brathwaite- who, in the current context of West Indies batting is an experienced hand- with left-hander Devon Smith seems a balance between carefulness and watchful aggression, Smith bringing the latter, one can’t wait to see how Grenadian will fare.
Here’s why there’s concern about rusticness might taking centre stage. While it’s been 5 years that Devon Smith played any ODI contest, the 36-year-old batsman last played a Test match against England in what turned out to be a memorable contest for the West Indies in 2015.
What turned out to be a victory for England at St. George’s, Smith contributed 15 and 2 from the two innings. 17 runs surely aren’t giver of a substantial amount of faith when your top order, rather opening batsman is responsible for such an effort.
But let’s keep the Test fiascos aside for a second. It’s believed that Devon Smith hasn’t been in any poor knick where his 4-day game is concerned. For the last three seasons on the trot, the dainty-built Grenadian, renowned for a powerful pull stroke and his ability to find runs toward square and cover regions, has been scoring well.
But while being selected for Test Cricket, a format West Indies are yet to better is a big plus, the presence of Kieran Powell might play on the mind of the batsman. Could this mean that in the event of a failure in the First Test itself signal playing Powell? Recalling Devon Smith into the squad doesn’t mean that he is here to play the Second Test, isn’t it?
It’s likely that Jason Holder, who has a little playing history with the batsman will not persist with his comeback player in the 1st Test itself. Else, how else does one gauge the potential for performance? No matter what one says, Devon Smith should be mindful of the fact that he has to his credit the playing experience of batting alongside the likes of Shiv Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle and, Darren Bravo.
This should fuel his confidence as will the realisation that he’s not a new kid on the block when it comes to representing the West Indies. This new set-up boasts of a youthful West Indies, powered by the presence of impressive talents in Hope, Chase and surely, scathing critics might resist the mention of Dowrich. At the same time a side that’s desperately looking for a new inlet of expression in a bid to elevate itself up from the sinking feeling of languishing at the bottom of the rankings, would welcome the move to include Smith.
Still- the decision to pick the batsman will irk those who were counting on Denesh Ramdin to play in the Sri Lanka series.