KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Dwayne Smith gave West Indies fans a taste of what he is capable of on Thursday as he joined Chris Gayle in a boundary-hitting blow-out against the New Zealand bowlers at Sabina Park.
The strongly-built 29-year-old whet the appetite with a topscore of 65 not out as the Windies won the rain-shortened first Digicel One-Day International by nine wickets with 52 balls to spare.
It was Smith’s second highest score in ODI cricket for West Indies -- three runs short of the 68 he made in Sri Lanka seven years ago. During Thursday’s innings he reached 1,000 career runs.
“My goal is to be consistent and provide runs for the team whenever I go to the wicket. That’s what I’m working on at the moment – consistency – and I believe I am making some progress in that direction. I have been given a chance at the top of the order and I want to make full use of it. Up here you get a chance to settle in and build an innings, so that works for me quite fine,” Smith said.
On Thursday, Smith faced 77 balls and counted six fours and three sixes - including a huge hit over long-on which landed in the top tier of the huge North Stand. Gayle entertained his beloved home fans with four fours and cleared the ropes five times in an unbeaten 63 off 57 balls. Together they were unstoppable in an unbroken second-wicket stand of 130 – with 88 runs coming in boundaries.
“I believe I am much more than just a six-hitter. I spoke to the coach and a few team-mates when I came back into the team and everyone offered good advice. I speak a lot to Fidel (Edwards), as we play for the same club team, and he told me ‘you don’t have to try anything special, you have it all in you’. I know once I look to get myself in and build an innings, I can make-up at the back-end of the innings,” he said.
As a fresh-faced 20-year-old, Smith made a sensational entry into international cricket with a blazing 105 not out off 105 balls on Test debut against South Africa in Cape Town. He has been in and out of the team since then, but made an encouraging return earlier this year at the top of the order in T20s and ODIs.
Since his comeback he has produced scores of: 10, 63, 70, 17 and 13 in T20s against Australia, England and New Zealand; and 56, 0 and 65 not out in ODIs against England and New Zealand.
“I made a decision to move to the top order to give myself a chance. The selectors have put their faith in me and I have received a lot of support from everyone around. I am relaxed and in a good frame of mind. I am in a good environment and I’m focussed,” added the allrounder, who can also bowl medium-pace and keep wicket.
“I’m more experienced now and have a good understanding of what is required. I know my role in the team and that is primarily to dig in and get good runs on the board. I can clear the boundary, but I also want to show I can play quality innings and can get runs consistently.”