If day one of the first Test between England and West Indies was all about a debutant from Surrey starring with the ball, then day two was all about one doing so with the bat.

Having marvelled at Gus Atkinson wreaking havoc among the tourists’ batting line-up with his 7-45, the Lord’s crowd got to sit back and enjoy Jamie Smith put together an assured 70 in his maiden Test innings, which included some spectacular big hitting as well.

Called into the team in the hope he can be the answer to England’s search for that elusive player who provides an attacking threat with the bat along with an assured presence behind the stumps, the 23-year-old showed some promising signs after a season which has seen him score 677 runs at an average of 56.41 in the County Championship so far.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Smith reflects on England’s performance in the first Test against West Indies so far and praises team-mates James Anderson and Gus Atkinson

“It was a different experience from county cricket when you’ve got about five people walking past you, but it was great to be out there,” Smith told Sky Sports, reflecting on his walk from the Long Room to the crease and facing a Test bowling attack for the first time.

“It helped the situation I came in at where we were on a decent enough lead at that point, and the ball was a bit softer and older which allowed me to get into the game.

“I didn’t have to go out there and score too quickly, and I was out there with [Joe Root] helping me out, which was great.”

Although brought in to provide some emphasis to the lower middle order following England ditching the experimentation of Jonny Bairstow wicketkeeping and feeling the specialist gloveman Ben Foakes did not bring what he needed to with the bat, Smith’s innings was a relatively measured one.

Jamie Smith's first Test in numbers

He reached his half-century from 98 balls and ended with a strike-rate of just under 59, compared to 76.67 in the County Championship, and boosted by some fireworks late in the innings with two sixes – one of which was hoisted out of the ground.

Despite looking comfortable for the most part, scoring +14.1 on CricViz’s expected runs statistic, Smith admitted it was something of an adjustment to be batting further down the order than the No 4 spot he usually occupies for Surrey. However, he felt under no pressure to accelerate the run-rate with England leading by 133 runs when he came to the crease.

“I don’t tend to bat at No 7, it’s a new experience for me, and it was a little bit tricky at times,” Smith said.

“I felt my rhythm was slightly off and it’s a world-class bowling attack as well, so you’re never going to always get off to a flier, it’s just about sticking in there a bit.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights from day two of the first Test between England and West Indies

“That was my time to just bed in and then I knew I’ve got the game to catch up as and when needed.”

As far as his work with the gloves goes, Smith now has three dismissals in Test cricket across two innings, including his first being catching Joshua Da Silva off his county colleague Atkinson on day one.

He has not conceded any byes so far either and while he knows he will face plenty of scrutiny over his ‘keeping as well as his batting, the right-hander has managed to maintain a calm demeanour about whatever may come his way.

“I’ve just been quite relaxed, to be honest,” Smith said. “I know it’s not going to be easy; I know there are going to be mistakes and drops, and no-one is going to be perfect, and it’s being quite at peace with that.

“I’m not someone who is going to worry about dropping catches, I’ve done it before in my career and if I do it again – well, it’s going to happen, so it’s about making the most of the experience and enjoying the opportunity.”

His catches off Ben Stokes and the retiring James Anderson helped reduce the West Indies to 79-6 in their second innings at the close on day two at Lord’s, still trailing England’s first-innings total by 171.

The prospect of an innings victory looming means Smith may not be required to bat again in this match, but he is grateful for the opportunity to be playing for the national team with a chance of fulfilling the undoubted potential he has shown since his early days in Surrey’s age-group set-up.

“There is going to be a lot more hard work to come, but it’s all exciting,” Smith said.

“Any opportunity to play for England, whatever way you can get in the side whether that’s batting or ‘keeping is a massive thing for me. I’ve really enjoyed these first two days and hopefully we can finish well on Friday.

“It would be nice for Gus to get two more to have 10 in the match because I think he deserves that, and Jimmy to pick off the rest.”

Watch day three of the first Test between England and West Indies live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.15am on Friday (11am first ball).

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *