DWAYNE SMITH – On a Rampage

Dwayne Smith often wears the mask of a forlorn figure when it comes to West Indies cricket. He was a member of the team that won the 2012 World Twenty20 (T20) title in Sri Lanka, although he didn’t factor in as much as he’d have liked, but since December of that year, he’s been thrown into the wilderness. Smith however is a man who believes actions speak louder than words…and right now, he’s making the biggest noise of his career.

His exploits with Barbados over the years have staked a claim as to why he should be included in any West Indian team, whether it be T20 or One-Days, but he always finds himself behind Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles or Lendl Simmons in the pecking order. However, that’s never deterred the 30 year-old all-rounder and after becoming a crucial championship-winning member of Mumbai Indians in the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL), he ventured one step further to add the 2013 Champions League T20 title to his Mumbai trophy cabinet last September. Smith garnered the MVP accolade in the latter as if to signal he was back and he meant business. Playing alongside Sachin Tendulkar would no doubt spark that kind of fire in a player hungry for West Indian success once more.

Smith’s 252 runs at an average of 58 led Barbados to the NAGICO Super50 title ahead of hosts, Trinidad and Tobago. His near-immaculate performances coincided and heralded a return to the Windies team in preparation for World T20 duty this March. As the best batsman and MVP of the Super50, coupled with an astonishing 2013 for Mumbai, Smith’s batting proved incendiary in 2014 and things have never looked better. His consistency in the crease and subsequent recall came as no surprise, least of all to him, as he harped on how badly he needed to don the West Indian maroon again. Smith indicated that the Windies kit was something that haunted him on various omissions. “I was a bit part player in the last World T20 but now I feel confident that I’m going to have a bigger role to play. I’m eager to show what I can do and to repay the faith of everyone who believed in me. Last time out in Sri Lanka, I was happy to be part of a winning team but now, I really want to be the one out there making the big runs to take us home,” he beamed.

The last year or so was hard as I missed out on some West Indies tours that I really wanted to take part in but like I said, it’s all down to hard work and determination. Never give up!

“I worked my ass off to get back here. I really wanted to put in the hours and make big scores to return to the West Indies fold. This Super50 win was just one step forward again as was winning the IPL and Champions League. My personal form has been great and I’ve been bowling much more to show my worth as an all-rounder so I definitely want to defend the crown in Sri Lanka,” he said. Smith controversially opted out of his Perth Scorchers contract of Australia’s Big Bash T20 league last January and this showed how devoted he was to ensnaring another Bajan medal. “I wanted to make myself available. The coaches and selectors who backed me and gave me the chance to open the batting once more, I’m repaying them. I was shifted around in the past outside the opening slots but here, I’m more comfortable and free to score. I also get to bowl more and I’m ready to step up when offered. The last year or so was hard as I missed out on some West Indies tours that I really wanted to take part in but like I said, it’s all down to hard work and determination. Never give up,” he continued.

What made the Super50 win even sweeter was that the unspoken and at times, volatile, rivalry between Trinidad and Barbados was extinguished on Trini soil. Smith soaked it in and playfully gloated as he mentioned how much of a hard time the Bajans were getting from T&T fans, especially the father of Dwayne Bravo. But he took it on the chin—all the banter was absorbed in good stead and easy jest. He acknowledged that when it comes to West Indian duty, they’re all one. “We all in,” he indicated. He savoured the victory at the Oval and will do so for months to come but as he basked in the glory, he admitted that the taste he craves most is lifting a stump to parade a West Indian win come the final in Bangladesh. His career is at its peak and after a recent transfer from Mumbai to Chennai Super Kings, where he’ll line up alongside Bravo, he expressed an innate desire to achieve greater heights. “I did well for Mumbai and had a blast there. I won a lot of trophies but now, it’s time to play with ‘Big Bravo’ and see Chennai to the top. What a squad we’ve got!” Smith confessed.

Indeed, on paper, his Chennai team looks monolithic. Many have touted them as the favourites this year, on the heels of the Smith purchase. Fans have deemed him one of the best openers in the IPL at present and his value no doubt will transcend expectations once he flays the opposition for the Windies. If the Super50 offered any insight of things to come, expect Dwayne Smith’s name to be plastered on the media very soon, and even more than present. He is on a rampage and the West Indies are certainly planning to utilize his prowess by all means possible.

Right now, he’s the juggernaut of West Indies cricket.

About the author

RENALDO MATADEEN is a 28 year-old sportswriter for ESPN Cricinfo and a social media manager with ESPN Caribbean. He has worked as a chemical engineer by practice, and also as a journalist for local newspapers. He is a lead writer at ESPN PR, music journalist at Punknews, as well as a writer at Comic Book Resources. With advertising agency experience in digital, social media, brand strategy and copy-writing, Renaldo is currently tailoring creative and business endeavors to publish graphic novels, films and socio-political documentaries to highlight the gem that is the region.

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