Devon Delights in Comeback
Thu, Mar 11, '04
from LAWRENCE ROMEO in Jamaica
On his return to the WI team after playing four tests against Australia, opener Devon Smith held the English bowling attack at bay on the first day here, partnering with another comeback kid, Ryan Hinds, to ensure that the West Indies would be spared any undue blushes.
Smith carried his rich Carib Cup form into this game and was a delight to watch. He cut and drove powerfully at anything slightly off line or off length on his way a maiden Test hundred in his fifth match.
Smith?s unfortunate omission after his debut series against Australia must have bothered him for his return was a classic display of resolute batting. The improved judgment of line that he showed in this innings suggested that he did not spend the last year sulking, but rather, was working on his technique.
On a pitch that offered something for the bowlers and allowed the batsmen to play their shots, Smith reached 108 off 188 balls, mixing aggression with stout defense, pushing the action throughout.
Smith?s performance today could be used as a perfect lesson for young West Indies hopefuls, in showing that even after being overlooked time and again by the selectors, one should stick to the task and by dint of runs, runs and more runs. The door opened and he barged in, demanding to be around to open the batting for the West Indies for a long time.
Ryan Hinds should also come in for special commendation, because here was another player whose career was seemingly drifting away, and only received a reprieve when fellow Bajan, Dwayne Smith dislocated a finger. Hinds played with an assurance that did not reflect the situation that the team had found itself. Coming in after Sarwan, Lara (who continues to look uncomfortable at the crease) and Chanderpaul had all departed, Hinds started streakily, but soon gained in confidence and played some magnificent drives on the way to 84.
The West Indian selectors will be faced with a pleasant dilemma when the two namesakes, Wavell Hinds and Dwayne Smith, regain fitness. They will then be faced with the decision of whether to stick with the Hinds and Smith or replace them with Hinds and Smith. In any event, Hinds and Smith are two names that should figure prominently in the fortunes of West Indies cricket in the future.
If only the bowling situation were as clear.