The West Indies surprised everyone by picking Devon Smith for the series against Sri Lanka. Could this be the last chance for Devon Smith, who hasn’t enjoyed a glorious run despite featuring in 36 Tests and 47 ODIs to rescue a fledgling career? On current form, both West Indies and Sri Lanka seem to be struggling, Sri Lanka’s hosts finding themselves nearly at the bottom of rankings.
Can Devon Smith’s experience aid a side that doesn’t boast of a great record against Sri Lanka?
Devon Smith lacks tremendous performances
Given that the Grenada-born batsman is 36, there are slim chances if he can produce something spellbinding in the little cricket that’s left in him.
This might seem like acerbic criticism.
But there’s context to it.
At immediate thoughts, for someone who’s had well over 50 chances at collecting runs in Tests, in fact, 67 innings to be precise and hasn’t yet crossed 2000 runs is an indication of mediocrity.
Although, having collected a solitary century and 8 fifties from 38 Tests speaks of Devon Smith’s ability to score, his scores don’t really reflect in his Test career.
While on the one hand, Jason Holder will be wary of the fact that a returning Smith’s batting average is only 24 in Tests- not exactly a promising signal when you’re drafted in as an opener- what’ll be more worrying is that the left-hander has been away from first-class international competitive cricket for 3 years.
Devon Smith last played in 2015
Against England, in a 9-wicket loss that his West Indies endured, Smith’s contributed with scores of 15 and 3.
This may or may not be a concern.
Truth be told, cricket dictates a simple rule. You’re as good as your last inning. So by that logic, Devon Smith shouldn’t be worrying and nor should his expected Test opening partner, Kraigg Brathwaite.
In three successive seasons in domestic 4-day duties, Smith’s been scoring runs for Winward Islands. In the month of February alone, even as the strong front-foot player didn’t score any daddy hundreds, he collected tw0 sound half-centuries, one apiece against Hampshire and Trinidad and Tobago.
Of late, Smith’s been seen more often in the nets than on the bed.
That should spur some confidence in the dainty-built cricketer
But even as the prospect of playing a Sri Lanka that no longer have a Lasith Malinga, they still boast of a balanced side that’s powered by the likes of the legendary Herath and a medium pacer of the quality of Suranga Lakmal.
Should that worry the West Indies?
Certainly, in having Devon Smith, who’s played with the past greats like Chanderpaul and a mix of cricket with senior stalwarts like Gayle and Samuels, the West Indies will feel there’s experience to match the guile of their youngsters.
But on second thoughts, it’ll also be interesting to note how well can a youthful side hold off the challenge imposed by Sri Lankan bowlers, who on pure experience of someone like Herath, who’s rattled sides like India and Australia in the past seem more potent than their opposite numbers- Bishoo, Gabriel and, Cummins.
But while there’s stability in Shai Hope and Roston Chase, two youngsters who seemingly form the spine of a new side keen to rediscover itself, in Smith, they’ll expect the old hand to deliver.
The 3-Test series will be a litmus test to gauge the reliability of both sides’ batting units.
While Chandimal has already indicated his endeavour to make most of this tour, the onus is on West Indies to make it count. So, can Devon Smith deliver on the faith entrusted on him by selectors?