One of the players that has made an impact during the first three rounds of the 2019-20 West Indies Championship is Nial Smith.
The Guyana Jaguars pacer is one of four bowlers who have taken 16 wickets during the first quarter of the Championship to lead the list of wicket-takers.
Smith also counts among the three pacers currently in the top five of the wicket-taking table, a major shift from past seasons, where spin bowlers dominated.
The other two pacers are Chemar Holder of Barbados Pride, also with 16 wickets, and Sheeno Berridge of Leeward Islands Hurricanes, with 13 scalps.
Smith, 24, hails from New Amsterdam in the county of Berbice, which has produced a number of outstanding Guyana and West Indies players.
He is playing in his first full season of the Championship. He has genuine pace and looks a good prospect. He has rattled a few batting line-ups already to claim a couple of five-wicket hauls.
His early influence to play the game came from his father Albert, a former Guyana national coach. He brought Nial to matches and introduced him to the players, so fitting into the current Jaguars set up has not been as difficult.
Smith identifies India’s Virat Kohli as his favourite batsman, but he harked back to the past to hail Sir Curtly Ambrose as his bowling hero, although there are little or no similarities in his height or bowling action.
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CWI Media spoke to Smith about his development and his immediate plans for the rest of the season:
How special has it been to start the season so strongly?
It has not been anything special. It has been about sticking to the team plans for the games and bowling in good areas. I think that has worked very well for me and I will be trying to continue working to those plans.
What’s the formula for your success?
It has been about attacking the stumps. Bowling straight. The conditions have been helpful. I have been able to get a bit of movement of the pitches and through the air, and that has helped with my success.
How have you overcome the nerves of your first full season?
There have not been too many nerves. I had made my debut at the senior level during the Colonial Medical Insurance Super50 Cup – and I was nervous then. But I have come into the West Indies Championship with a lot more confidence and I am looking to keep composure and try to be successful with what I have set out to do.
How would you rate your performance so far?
They have been memorable. This is the highest level of the game in the Caribbean. I want to keep working hard and back up these early performances with more success later in the season.
How much confidence has your early success given you?
It has given me a lot of confidence. I want to back up my previous performances and show the selectors that I have a lot of talent and I am working hard on my game.
How do you prepare for the season?
This is a long season and to come strong, I have to keep the energy levels up. I have done a lot of fitness training leading into the season and I have continued to work on my fitness in between matches, so that I can keep the performances coming.
What lessons have you learnt so far?
The key is to understand it is the longer version of the game and it is important to remain patient and be focused on the job which I have been called upon to do. As a pacer, I have to keep hitting good areas and maintain consistency, that is important.
Is there pressure of being a newcomer in such a successful squad?
There is not much pressure, but I want to do well, I want to get it right. I want the senior players and the support staff to see that you are willing to put in the hard work. It is important for me to keep up to the level which they have set. As a newcomer to the squad, it’s good to have senior players that can give you all the advice that you need, and it is up to me now to execute.
What are your goals for the season?
I want to continue working hard and end with the most wickets by a fast bowler in the Championship. I am aiming to capture six wickets a game and it will be about pushing towards that target for me.
ROUND 4 of the West Indies Championship bowls of on Thursday 6th February, 2020 @ 10:00am Eastern Caribbean time!
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Source: CWI Media