DateLine: 20th December 2005
After a decade of service for Warwickshire, Neil Smith received his international chance when the England selectors suddenly developed a liking for bits and pieces one-day specialists. His hard hitting batting and decent off-spin made him ideal for the limited-overs game, although he lacked the necessary quality to be successful at this higher level. In the World Cup of 1995/6 he enjoyed success with bat and ball against the UAE (where he famously retired ill after vomiting on the pitch) and the Netherlands, although his effectiveness was reduced when he faced a Test playing nation. Although his First-class record of 26 with the bat and 37 with the ball could have been better, he was an essential part of the Warwickshire juggernaut of the 1990’s, playing a full part in their Championship campaigns of 1994 and 1995. He also appeared in eight Lords Finals between 1989 and 2002, being victorious in five. His off-spin was always economical and hard to get away on these occasions, although his finest hour arguably came with the bat in his first Lords final, where at the death he picked Simon Hughes’ slower ball and deposited it for a straight six as The Bears triumphed. Smith captained Warwickshire in the late 1990’s, where he became the first son to captain the same county as his father (who is former England captain MJK Smith). He played for Shropshire in 2004, where, fittingly, his last List A appearance came at Edgbaston against Warwickshire.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 Matthew Reed)