Doors are beginning to open


Meet the boy from Oamaru who has just been in Bangladesh, has an exciting opportunity in Wellington this weekend, and has the world at his feet.
Nathan Smith, the most exciting North Otago cricket prospect in a generation, has been back in class at Waitaki Boys’ High School after representing New Zealand at the Under-19 World Cup in the subcontinent.
The fast bowler had barely unpacked his suitcase from the tour when he learned he had been selected in the South Island team for the televised twenty20 clash with the North Island at the Basin Reserve in Wellington this weekend.
It is a chance for Smith to rub shoulders with some elite players _ remarkably, 21 of the 24 players across the two squads are past or present Black Caps _ and enhance his status as one of New Zealand cricket’s youngsters to watch.
“It’s a wee bit of a strange feeling,” Smith said.
“The coaches from the under-19 team are coaching the two island teams. They picked me on my performances at the world cup, and they’ve said it’s a great opportunity for me to get amongst the top level and learn heaps.
“It will be great for me. I’ll just go in and see what the other guys are doing, and see if I can find stuff out from them that will work for me.”While Smith heads to Wellington, North Otago (including older brother Jeremy) will be defending the Hawke Cup against Hawkes Bay at Milner Park.
Smith would love to be sharing the new ball with Penguins paceman Francois Mostert but believes the chance to test himself at the top is too good to pass up.
“I think I’ve just got to grab this opportunity. I might not get something like this again, so hopefully I can make the most of it. And obviously I’ll be hoping the North Otago boys can hold on to the cup.”The Baby Black Caps failed to reach the top eight at the Under-19 World Cup but Smith said the team learned a lot and developed a strong camaraderie.
He was “reasonably happy” with his own performance and enjoyed the experience of being in a vastly different part of the world.
“Bangladesh was a bit different, for sure. It could be smoggy all day, and we’d often woke up to fog, meaning games would have to start late.
“We always had lots of security around us. At the grounds, there’d be something like 600 police officers.
“It was 20degC to 30degC every day, and really humid, so you’d shed a lot of sweat.”Smith is hoping he will get a chance to resume his lethal pace bowling partnership with Francois Mostert if North Otago can beat Hawkes Bay and host one final challenger this summer.
He has relished playing alongside and learning from the star South African.
“Francois has been really good for me. “If I ever have any questions, I can go to him. He’s always told me to back my ability, and he offers advice whenever I need it.”Smith will do some winter training with the Otago cricketers, and hopes to play first-class cricket for the Volts as soon as possible.
Otago has given young bowlers like Jacob Duffy and Jack Hunter a chance in recent seasons, and the boy from Oamaru appears well on the way to following the same path.

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