Nathan Smith might have no choice but to start calling himself an all-rounder soon.
“Specialist batsman” might even need to be used once or twice.
Smith, the young Otago Volts fast bowler, showed his ability with the bat as he returned to his home province to guide North Otago to a record 199-run win over Otago Country in the opening round of Hawke Cup qualifying in Alexandra at the weekend.
The former New Zealand under-19 representative whacked a marvellous 133 off 146 balls, an extraordinary innings in a game in which no other batsman passed 50.
In fact, the second-highest score came from his older brother, Jeremy, who made a gutsy 47 as the Smiths put on 139 for the fourth wicket in North Otago’s second innings to set up the victory.
A third Smith, Craig, claimed a five-wicket bag (his sixth for North Otago), and Francois Mostert did what kings do and produced a royal performance, destroying Otago Country in the first innings with his 13th five-wicket bag for the province, a sizzling seven for 28.
Happy days, then, for North Otago as it got the Hawke Cup campaign off to a perfect start.
And for Nathan Smith, it was an ideal opportunity to work on his batting while getting himself fully fit for a return to the Volts later this summer.
“It was a good chance for me to get a bit of time in the middle,” he told the Oamaru Mail
“I was just trying not to get out. Country have a pretty good seam attack, and the wicket was up and down so it was quite hard to score.
“I was trying to have a clear mind and hit the bad balls. It was sort of a good mental challenge to bat that long in the heat and not throw it away.
“I’m massively proud. I think it’s the fourth hundred I’ve ever scored, and my last one was about three years ago. It’s awesome to get over the line.” Smith said he always enjoyed batting with his talented big brother, who has been eager to get the runs flowing again and showed real grit in the second innings.
“It’s always fun to spend a bit of time in the middle with Jeremy.
“I can keep him under control if I keep chatting to him, ha ha.” Smith did not bowl in either innings in keeping with instructions from the Otago coaching staff as he had a minor rib injury.
While the Volts are tackling limited-overs cricket in the Ford Trophy, Smith will likely be allowed to play another Hawke Cup game for North Otago this weekend.
“I love coming back. I can just come in and play, and it’s nice to be around the North Otago boys again.
“We’ve got a heck of a bowling attack. Frank [Mostert] and Spud [Craig Smith] are taking wickets, and Jeremy’s chipping in with a couple of poles as well. So it’s sort of a case of, where do I fit in?” North Otago struck familiar trouble with the bat in both innings in Alexandra, slipping to two for three (with three third-ball ducks, oddly) in the first knock and 18 for three in the second.
But early collapses are almost the norm in the Hawke Cup, and as long as North Otago gets some runs from its middle and lower order, and the likes of Mostert and Craig Smith take their wickets, anything is possible.
North Otago hosts old rival South Canterbury, which is looking reasonably strong, at Centennial Park this weekend.