Tom Smith is hoping to keep calm and carry on bowling after spending a large portion of the 2012 summer on the treatment table
The all-rounder missed ten LV= County Championship matches through hamstring and thigh injuries.
Fit again and back in pre-season training with some of his county colleagues at Old Trafford, Smith has revealed that he and the Red Rose medical team are trying to come up with a solution to keep him on the park for longer in years to come. And cutting back on the 26-year-old’s bowling workload is something that has been discussed.
A handful of stunning performances with the bat during the closing stages of last summer demonstrated just how important he is to Lancashire.
He hit a 44-ball century in a rain-affected Clydesdale Bank 40 match against Worcestershire in late August - it was the joint fifth fastest hundred in List A history - before notching 91 against Durham in a Championship draw two days later.
The left-hander then finished off the four-day campaign with knocks of 55 and 83 against Middlesex and Surrey as an opening batsman.
Despite his success with the bat, he is understandably keen to continue his role alongside Steven Croft as an all-action all-rounder.
“It's something we've talked about, but I want to bowl as much as I can to be honest,” said Smith, who burst onto the scene in 2006 predominantly as a bowler who batted. “It's something that I love doing as much as my batting. Bowling's a big part of my game. It's something that I relish. The more I bowl the happier I'll be.
“It's almost gone full circle for me. I started as a batter (in league cricket with Chorley), then started bowling a bit. I started with Lancashire primarily as a bowler and then since Mooresy's come in, I've been moved up the order in various formats. In one-day cricket I see myself as a batter and a bowler. In four-day cricket I see myself as doing both as well.”
There are comparisons between Smith’s situation and that of Australian Test all-rounder Shane Watson, who has suffered from hamstring problems in the past and is currently battling his way back to fitness from a calf issue.
“You look at his career and how it's gone, and he's limited his workload in that respect,” continued Smith. “When you watch him play, he's an unbelievable cricketer. It's something you can look at I guess.
“Our medical team takes things from different aspects of the game. You see what you can do to try and do something different. If it doesn't work, you move onto the next thing.”
Smith has now graduated into a senior player at Old Trafford, even more so with the winter departures of Gary Keedy to Surrey and Sajid Mahmood to Essex.
“The squad’s got a very different look to it now,” he added. “There's Chappie here and then me and Hoggy as the senior players at the moment. It's a little bit weird. We have a few senior players away doing different things at the moment.
“I guess it puts a bit more responsibility on the likes of myself, Kyle, Paul Horton, Oliver Newby and Crossy to step up. During the last game of last season we fielded a team without Chappie and Ashwell and a few others, and it gave a lot of the young lads a chance.”
Smith has been keeping a close eye on Croft’s performances in New Zealand, and he will have seen his team-mate continue his fine Twenty20 form for Northern Knights in their HRV Cup campaign this morning as they beat Central Districts.
Croft took 2-12 from four overs as CD were restricted to 149-6 before cracking an unbeaten 59 off 48 balls to anchor the pursuit of a second win on the bounce. He hit 81 off 49 balls in their opening round win against Otago earlier this month.
Smith had a spell playing Twenty20 cricket in Zimbabwe last winter, and is keen to go away again before the 2013 county campaign starts: “I'll see what crops up,” he added. “If I get the opportunity to go away, I'd love to. But first of all, I've got to get everything right.”
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd