Home > Features > Moments in history >

Dwayne Smith soars to lofty heights with sparkling ton on debut Test against South Africa

Dwayne Smith's selection into the West Indies Test team for the first time sparked a lot of criticism for the Windies think tank as he didn't have a great First-Class record © Getty Images
Dwayne Smith’s selection into the West Indies Test team for the first time sparked a lot of criticism for the Windies think tank as he didn’t have a great First-Class record © AFP

West Indies batting all-rounder Dwayne Smith was picked from obscurity by the selectors for the tour to South Africa in 2003-04. As the selectors were ridiculed for picking a player with a modest First-Class record, Smith gave a powerful riposte to his critics with a majestic hundred in his debut Test at Cape Town. Bharath Ramaraj looks back at Smith’s mystical brilliance in his debut match against South Africa.

 

When West Indies’ selectors plumped for batting all-rounder Dwayne Smith before their tour to South Africa in 2003-04, eyebrows were raised by cricket pundits as to how could someone who had never essayed a century in First-Class cricket till then for his team Barbados, suddenly make the cut to be picked for West Indies.

 

In fact, he was soon thrown into the line of the fire by the Windies think-tank, as he was picked to play in the third Test against South Africa at Cape Town. In fact, when he walked out to bat during his Test debut on January 6, 2004, the South African pace attack comprising of Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini and Andre Nel had just made a mincemeat of West Indies’ batting line-up in the first two Tests of the series and were licking their lips in anticipation of bowling at a Test debutant without a fine record to back him up. Smith though, took everyone by surprise with his thundering flicks and lofted shots to ruthlessly dismantle the pace attack and essay a twinkling century on his debut. When Ntini bowled it short, he took it from off-stump and sledge hammered it over the mid-wicket region. He tore into chinaman bowler Paul Adams by wielding his willow like an axe.

Even when Paul Adams bowled it outside the line of his leg-stump, he flicked it with abundance of power to smash it over the cow corner for a six. As soon as Adams pitched it in line, with a little shimmy down the wicket, he tonked it over the long region for another six. The shots were hit at the speed of lightning from his bat.

The South Africans in an attempt to counter his breathtaking and exceptional stroke-play bowled a much fuller length. Astonishingly his bat speed was such that he made near yorker lengths from Ntini seem like a rank bad half volleys by driving them down the ground for boundaries. The ever-spirited Nel decided the best way to get him out was to bang it half way down the pitch and test him with short stuff. Smith though, was equal to the task by playing a crackerjack pull of Nel and the ball raced to the boundary boards.

Shaun Pollock, the wily seamer known for playing on  a batsman’s patience then constantly bowled  in that one foot square window outside Smith’s off-stump. However, Smith showcased that he can play the occasional cover-drive too by thumping him for a boundary through the off-side.

Dwayne Smith's hundred on debut was laced with shots mostly on the on-side, but he didn't hesitate to drive against the likes of Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini as well © Getty Images
Dwayne Smith’s hundred on debut was laced with shots mostly on the on-side, but he didn’t hesitate to drive against the likes of Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini as well © AFP

The tangle of nerves perhaps got to him, as on 92, Smith tried to play on the up against a back-of-a-length delivery from Nel, only for it to dangerously fly over the slip region. However, when a batsman is in that rarefied zone, he invariably goes for those high adrenaline risky shots. Smith did something similar by playing a power-packed drive of Nel on the up to reach the coveted the three-figure mark. An ecstatic Smith raised his bat to acknowledge the warm applause from the knowledgeable crowd and on expected lines, there were wild celebrations from Smith, as to essay a century on Test debut is a special moment for any batsman.

Yet, despite Smith’s pulsating knock, there was an inkling that he tended to play most of his shots through the on-side. It was evident that he struggled to open himself up and hit through the off-side during the innings.

As the years ticked by, the dream of donning the flannels of West Indies’ maroon cap seemed to be more of a distant dream for Smith. On a few occasions, Smith came to the party, but more often than not, found himself in a trench from where there was no way out for the batting all-rounder to engineer a comeback. His success for Mumbai Indians opened the flood gates for him to chart a comeback into the side for the abridged versions of the game. But even now, Smith largely struggles to make the cut to play for West Indies. Everyone though, reminisces that one thrill-a-minute innings from Smith at Cape Town and wonder what might have been.

(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Sep 13, 2014 (19:30 IST)   at Gros Islet, St Lucia

World T20 League 2014

Sep 16, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Raipur

World T20 League 2014

Sep 16, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Raipur

World T20 League 2014

Sep 17, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Sep 18, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Mohali

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 14, 2014  at Raipur

Mumbai Indians won by 9 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 14, 2014  at Raipur

Northern Knights won by 72 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 13, 2014  at Raipur

Lahore Lions won by 6 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 13, 2014  at Raipur

Northern Knights won by 7 wkts

Scotland tour of Ireland, 2014

Sep 12, 2014  at Dublin

Scotland won by 8 wkts

Photos

India tour of England 2014: Highlights

Videos

Ajmal addresses media after being suspended

West Indies in complete command of 2nd Test against Bangladesh at Gros Islet

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in CLT20 2014 Preview: A pack of world-class players

Saeed Ajmal’s suspension: ICC catches big fish to send strong message on suspect actions

Kolkata Knight Riders in CLT20 2014: Heavyweights who stand an excellent chance of going the distance

Cape Cobras in CLT20 2014 Preview: South African unit high on quality

Bangladesh Bangladesh vs West Indies Bangladesh vs West Indies 2014 Champions League T20 2014 CLT20 CLT20 2014 Lahore Lions vs Mumbai Indians Lahore vs MI MI vs Lahore Mumbai Indians Mumbai Indians vs Lahore Lions Southern Express West Indies West Indies vs Bangladesh West Indies vs Bangladesh 2014

CLT20 2014: Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings get ready for opening game

Shahid Afridi appointed Pakistan’s T20 captain

Sohaib Maqsood could be considered for Pakistan’s T20 captaincy

CLT20 2014: What Mumbai Indians, Lahore Lions need to do to qualify for main draw

Mohammad Yousuf slams PCB’s decision to conduct domestic T20 tournament before ICC World Cup 2015

Perth Scorchers in CLT20 2014 Preview: BBL champions start as underdogs

Jonty Rhodes — what if the famous leap to run-out Inzamam-ul-Haq hadn’t come off

Hansie Cronje — once he was a harmless, carefree prankster

Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014: Lahore Lions’ fate mimics that of Pakistan

CLT20 2014 Qualifier match 5: Lahore Lions vs Southern Express — Key battles

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

635 Posts | 7 Fans

Yuvraj Singh in Anupam Kher show

Dhanush, Siddharth,Sivakarthikeyan applaud Shankar’s I!

Xiaomi Redmi 1S third sale on Flipkart to begin at 2PM today, up to 40,000 units on sale

Bypoll Election Results: Ruling Telugu Desam Party wins Nandigama Assembly bypoll in Andhra Pradesh

Revelead — medicines for mild hypertension may not be needed

Shahid Afridi appointed Pakistan’s T20 captain

Can Assam push BJP’s northeastward thrust?

NGOs pursue education for all

BlackBerry Classic latest photo leak reiterate the return of physical navigation and trackpad

Jonty Rhodes — what if the famous leap to run-out Inzamam-ul-Haq hadn’t come off

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here