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GARY WILSON’S WEEKLY CRICKET COLUMN

Graeme Smith has been forced out of action at Surrey

Graeme Smith has been forced out of action at Surrey

The last week has been an interesting one to say the least. We first got the whiff of the news that Graeme Smith might be going home during a second XI t20 game against Sussex.

Immediately, the first thought was, ‘surely not again’. We knew he was in a lot of pain but not one person had predicted it could be effectively a broken knee.

To lose a character like Smithy is like taking away a father figure from a group. His influence in the dressing room was like no one I’ve ever played with.

Obviously he had the immediate respect of everyone through what he had achieved in his career, no doubt that helped but what people didn’t know before they met him was that he is just a quality, solid bloke.

I’ve been lucky enough over the last two years to play with three of the world’s greatest ever players. Ricky Ponting, Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith. Just being able to write that is, quite frankly, ridiculous.

If there is one constant with all three it’s that they are good guys first and outstanding cricketers second. To have three guys who have achieved what they have and see that the way they behave and live their life was humbling for everyone in the dressing room.

It was during the same second team game that I first heard that I could be asked to step into the shoes of captaincy. We were going through possibilities and academy director, Gareth Townsend said he thought they were going to ask me.

It wasn’t for another 24 hours that Graham Ford spoke to me and asked if I would consider it if they were to offer it to me.

I Was then called in to see both him and Alec Stewart and that’s when they asked. It was a pretty surreal moment for me. Immediately there were lots of different emotions filling my head, the over riding one was pride.

Since Mark Patterson had made the trip across the water I had supported this club and I was now being asked if I would take on the captaincy. Though nervous, I had no hesitation saying yes.

I have always wanted to lead at some point in my career and think I have the skills required to do so.

At the same time, I’m under no illusions of the size of the job at hand. We are a very young side, especially in first class cricket but we have got a back room staff that is second to none and both Fordy and Alec have been brilliant so far, as have all the players.

I wasn’t nervous about how they would react but the first day at training was brilliant with each one offering their congrats.

I’m also lucky to have both Hashim and Gareth Batty around to lean on for ideas. I’ve been humbled also by the reaction of our fans and indeed my own friends.

My first game in the job is down at Chelmsford and we have made a pretty good start.

They posted 228 in their first innings on a wicket offering some assistance to spin bowling.

Gareth Batty, on his return to the side returned career best figures taking eight of the Essex wickets.

He bowled beautifully and it was great to see him back. He offers a lot to our side, not just with his wickets.

We have made our way to 204-6 as the rain falls on the morning of day three. Hopefully we can scrape our way to a decent first innings lead and really try to put pressure on the Essex batsmen.

After this game it’s back to t20 on Friday night and hopefully a sold out game at the Kia Oval against cross city rivals Middlesex. They are the games that everyone wants to play in.

Each year the atmosphere is electric and there is just something extra about the game itself.

Middlesex have not started this year’s competition well but that won’t matter, as the old cliche goes, the form guide goes out the window.

 

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