Devon Smith's domestic appetite left selectors with no choice

Wed, Jun 6, '18

by GARFIELD ROBINSON

Commentary
 
Smith had a staggering 2017-18 first-class season, vastly outperforming much younger players who were expected to challenge for a place in the Test team
Smith had a staggering 2017-18 first-class season, vastly outperforming much younger players who were expected to challenge for a place in the Test team © Getty

 With the first Test of the West Indies-Sri Lanka series approaching, one major topic of discussion is that of 36-year-old Devon Smith making yet another return to the side. Making his Test debut in April 2003, the left-hander has played 38 Tests, averaging a meager 24.5 with one century and six fifties. Patchy Test-match form has permitted him a spot in the side only sporadically and he last donned the maroon cap three years ago in St. George's when the English came.

He made his lone century against England at Sabina Park in Kingston during their 2004 visit. And if you were seated in the stands, or in your living room watching on television, you'd have felt certain you were witnessing the first of many hundreds by the diminutive left-hander. You'd have felt this way because it was an innings of high quality that seemed to herald the coming of a player of high quality. It appeared to be a hint of things to come.

Brian Lara, his captain, thought so as well, and said as much during the press conference afterward. But Smith never ascended to that level again, at least not for any lengthy period of time. He never scored another Test hundred. A pattern emerged: he was picked, then lost form, was dropped, scored runs at the regional level, and then was picked again. That cycle repeated itself a number of times over the years and is the reason he has only played 38 Tests in 15 years.

 And so now we have arrived at yet another comeback for the Grenadian. This time he knocked on the door more forcefully than ever, scoring 1095 runs in 18 innings at an average of 84.23 with six centuries and one half-century in the 2017-18 first-class season. It was the kind of knocking the selectors found they could not ignore and so invited him, once again, to return to the West Indies Test ranks.

 

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