‘Thinking man’s cricketer’

2012-08-04 00:00

DARYN Smit has been appointed Dolphins captain for the coming season, a move that has generated an atmosphere of confidence among players, management and officials at Kingsmead.

As vice-captain for the past two seasons to Imraan Khan, Smit is recognised as a respected player in the squad — a player who, according to coach Lance Klusener, “wears the Dolphins badge with pride and probably sleeps in his Dolphins shirt and tracksuit”.

Be that as it may, such a statement is testimony to Smit’s standing within the Dolphins setup. A faithful servant of the brand since making his debut in 2004, he has quietly gone about his business, primarily as wicket-keeper with a touch of leg-spin bowling in between. Those bowling days are over as he focuses on his ’keeping — with one eye on the national squad — and batting. A player who works consistently on his game, he was rewarded with his best performances to date last season, averaging 42 in four-day cricket, 64 in the 50-over competition and 69 in the 20-over format.

His appointment was one of coach Klusener’s first tasks and a step in the right direction at identifying leadership within the team. “He’s a senior player and leads from the front. He’s equipped to handle pressure and his record shows he performs his best when the chips are down. His pride and passion are an example to all around him and he is the ideal man to be at the helm this season, although it won’t be an easy task,” he said.

For Smit, it’s a journey that has come full circle. “As a youngster, I used to watch Natal, as it was called then, and dream of following in the footsteps of my heroes. Playing for the Dolphins for the past nine seasons has [helped me to realise] that dream, and the captaincy is the cherry on top. My goal is to bring out the best in a young squad and establish the Dolphins as a dominant force in domestic cricket. I would not have accepted the captaincy if I did not believe I could make a difference to the team,” he said.

It’s not a bed of roses for Smit and he acknowledged that he needed the support of all his team-mates. “There’s a lot on my plate and as a team we need to push each other to greater heights and raise the bar. Having a coach of Lance’s calibre, plus previous captains Imraan Khan and Ahmed Amla in the mix, is a huge benefit. I am new to the captaincy role and these guys will provide me with help, guidance and assistance.”

Outgoing skipper Imraan Khan, was thanked by Klusener, Dolphins CEO Jesse Chelin, the president of KZNCU, Fa-eez Jaffar, and Smit for leading the team in the past two years. He was commended for working with a batch of youngsters and standing by the team through rough times. He stepped down as captain to concentrate on his game and has strong ambitions of returning to the national squad.

Smit, by his own admission a “thinking man’s cricketer”, made his debut for the Dolphins in the first domestic T20 match played in the country in 2004. The Dolphins met Western Province Boland at Newlands, and although he did not bat, Smit remembers the match for another special moment. “We batted first and as the Province innings started, Shaun Pollock came in to Graeme Smith. First ball he got a nick and I dived to take the catch behind the stumps.”

A few months later he made his first-class debut in a UCB Provincial Cup match against Easterns at Benoni. Once Duncan Brown’s time in the senior side was over, Smit never looked back.

DARYN SMIT

First-class career: 69 matches; 2628 runs; HS 109*; 3x100; 14x50; Avg 32.04. 61wkts; Best 4/50; Avg 40.59.

List A career (50 overs): 68 matches; 1018 runs; HS 109; 1x100; 5x50; Avg 29.94. 30wkts; Best 3/13; Avg 33.26.

T20 career: 52 matches; 328 runs; HS 40; Avg 21.86. 18wkts; Best 3/19; Avg 18.05.

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