‘Cool experience’ in hot contest

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Boy wonder had another taste of real men’s cricket over the holiday period – and he can’t wait for more.

North Otago star Nathan Smith made his twenty20 debut for the Otago Volts on Boxing Day, and played another Super Smash game at the same venue two days later.

“It was a very cool experience,” Smith told the Oamaru Mail

“Twenty20 cricket gives you a real good indication of where you’re at.

“And it’s so fast. It goes by just like that. There’s no time for thinking about too much.”

Smith did not get to bat in either game but grabbed a wicket on debut against the Canterbury Kings, removing top scorer Chad Bowes at the top of the order.

“I got hit for 14 off my first over and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, right.’ But I got a wicket in my second or third over, which was nice.

“White-ball cricket is a big work-on for me – things like change-ups and execution. It just comes down to spending more time in the middle.

“The coaches said they were just keen to get me in the mix and see what I needed to work on. It gave me a bit of experience and a look at what T20 cricket is like at the highest level.”

Smith then headed to Lincoln to play two games for Otago A, alongside fellow North Otago bowler Francois Mostert, in the national second-tier tournament.

Just before Christmas, he had the thrill of captaining Otago, including young North Otago team-mate Llew Johnson, to the New Zealand under-19 title for the first time in over a decade.

“They are a really good bunch. It’s funny because we had a similar team last year and got last.

“I struggled a bit with my bowling. Just a few technical issues to sort out.

“But it was good to pull my weight with the bat a little bit. It’s always good to stand up and take a bit of responsibility. I was batting No 5.”

Smith has not taken as many wickets as he would like across the various formats, and is hoping to “get a few more poles” over the rest of the summer.

He has also been slowed down by the first significant injury of his career. He has just had three stitches removed from a split webbing on his left hand.

Smith will lead the North Otago attack in the Hawke Cup game against South Canterbury in Timaru next weekend, and is hoping to add to his two first-class appearances for Otago soon.

He will join his new club, Carisbrook-Dunedin, at the start of next month, and move into a hall of residence on February 18 in preparation for university studies.

Smith signs an autograph for a young fan. PHOTOS: NICCI SMITH
Smith signs an autograph for a young fan. PHOTOS: NICCI SMITH