That was a big monkey for Nathan Smith to get off his back.
The former Waitaki Boys’ High School pupil scored his maiden first class hundred last weekend, hitting 114 for the Otago Volts against Northern District.
Alongside Michael Rippon, the Otago Volts all-rounder put on 190 for the seventh wicket in the Plunkett Shield game, breaking a 67-year-old record set by the legendary Bert Sutcliffe.
They eclipsed the previous mark of 182, posted by Sutcliffe and Alan Gilbertson, at Lancaster Park in December 1952.
When Smith strode on to the crease, Otago was 97 for five, with Black Caps bowler Neil Wagner steaming in.
“It was a hell of a feeling, reflecting back it was all a bit of a blur”, Smith said.
“It was all about soaking up the pressure that they put on at the start, it was a pretty tough wicket to score on so we had to bide our time a little bit.”
Coming in with the team in dire straits helped him focus on the task ahead, he said.
“It was good to put the team in a good situation and in front almost, it has been a while since we have been in front in a four day game.”
Smith’s previous top score in a first class game was 75, so the nerves started to kick in as he approached the century milestone.
“I was nervous from about 80, mate, I started thinking ‘oh wow, I haven’t been here before, it’s getting pretty real’, I couldn’t really calm myself.
“I just had to back the 150-odd balls I’d face and hoped that counted for something.”
Breaking the Sutcliffe record was “pretty special”.
“It’s not often you knock one of his records off”, Smith said.
The 21-year-old has become a key member in the Volts squad, but is not focused on individual accolades.
“At the moment it is just about trying to win games for Otago and trying to do well and learn along the way.
“If anything comes from that it’s all good, but I don’t want to look too far ahead.
“We are looking for some silverware in the white-ball stuff and four day cricket there is not a lot of experience in our group but I think we can ruffle a few feathers if we play well.”
Smith recently returned to New Zealand after a stint in the United Kingdom, where he played a summer of cricket for Radlett Cricket Club, near London.
“It was good, I didn’t play too well cricket-wise but I loved the experience – I learnt a lot about myself.”