Former Derbyshire and Essex all-rounder Greg Smith will don the Welsh colours for the first time next year as the 38 year old has agreed terms as Wales National County Assistant Player/Coach for the 2022 season, switching allegiance from Cornwall CCC.
Smith, who resides in Cornwall and plays club cricket for Penzance will link up with Wales NC Head Coach Darren Thomas (who recently signed a new one year extension), after the two coaches spent the last couple of years together honing their craft on the ECB Master Coach (Level IV) programme. Whilst Smith’s commitments are with Penzance first and foremost, he is expected to be available for much of the national counties season across all formats. It's a new role (Assistant Player/Coach) within the Wales NC setup and one that looks there to stay for the future.
Despite an impressive 2021 campaign Wales have been keen to bolster their batting with leading run scorer Oskar Kolk’s availability in major doubt given Royal Marines commitments, and given the relative ease at which they succumbed to One Day Trophy winners Berkshire in the semi-final. With 5,635 runs (30.62) and 184 wickets (35.33) at first class level, combined with 2342 runs (35.33) and 72 wickets (36.87) in List-A cricket spanning 12 years (1452 runs and 42 wickets in T20 cricket also) Smith certainly doesn’t come up short where experience is concerned. Eight professional hundreds (including one in T20 cricket) and five 5-wicket hauls can attest to that.
Indeed, since his move to Penzance in 2016 Smith has been an integral member of Cornwall’s side scoring 1168 runs across all formats at an average of 36.50 (x6 50s and x2 100s) and accumulating 75 wickets – a mixture of seam and off-spin – at an average of 21.21.
It has been no coincidence also that Penzance have become regular visitors to the latter stages of ECB National Competitions, reaching the quarter finals for four consecutive years. Under Smith’s tutelage as the club’s Director of Cricket they enjoyed a historic 2019 campaign collecting five trophies to include the Cornish Premier League, The Vinter Cup, The Edwards Cup, The Kernow Krash and The Runciman Cup. The club continues to expand its reach locally, running hugely successful All Stars and Dynamos programmes as well as 1-1 coaching programmes. They look well set to challenge the best clubs from England and Wales in 2022.
Whilst it will mean getting accustomed to the M4 more than usual, Smith is eager for the challenge that lies ahead. He said, “I’m really excited to work with Wales next season and hopefully contribute both on and off the field to bring in some silverware! It’s going to be great working with Darren (who’s a good friend of mine) in what is already a great setup. To be able to impart the knowledge I have gained in my career onto youngsters is something I love doing and I’m confident the relationship between us and Wales is going to be very rewarding.”
Cricket Wales Head of Talent Pathway, Matt Thompson was equally positive at Smith’s potential impact. He commented, “when the opportunity to utilise someone of Greg’s calibre is available you don’t have to think twice. Not only will he add immense value on the field, but the desire to have somebody (as well as Darren) that our youngsters can look up to, learn off and pick the brains of is really important to us. We’ve already seen how influential the likes of Gareth Andrew (Oxfordshire), Chris Peploe (Berkshire), Graham Wagg (Shropshire) and others are at this level to their playing groups, and you do need to have a side that has the right blend of youth and experience. We remain committed to bringing through young Welsh players and utilising the best league players around, and Greg’s arrival will only move us forwards in our pursuit of success.”
Wales NC Head Coach Darren Thomas on linking up Smith: “Bringing someone like Greg into the Wales coaching setup shows a drive for success and commitment to improve our young batting line up. Greg has spoken about his enthusiasm and passion to improve our young players and his experience and leadership qualities with assist the group no end. I am really excited at having Greg as an assistant player/coach which will hopefully take this group to the next level.”
PHOTO (Credits: PPAUK): Greg Smith faces strike for Cornwall against Devon in 2016 under the watchful eyes of Matt Thompson (Cricket Wales Head of Talent Pathway). Both of them will be looking to ensure Wales continue their impressive resurgence in 2022 since the merging of Wales NC into Cricket Wales in 2020.
Fixtures for the 2022 season are expected this side of Christmas as preparations continue.
To find out more about Smith’s club Penzance in the Cornish Premier League visit their Play Cricket website: https://penzance.play-cricket.com/home.