Smith takes the reins at St George’s
Wendell Smith has taken over the head coach post at St George’s, returning to a post he previously held when he was also the captain back in the Eighties and Nineties.
Smith, who rejoined the club last year as assistant coach, after stints as coach of St David’s and Western Stars, has taken over the top role, after Ryan Steede made clear at the end of last season that he would be stepping down.
Smith, the first batsman to score 1,000 Cup Match runs, is going back to where it all started. He took over as captain and coach from Clevie Wade in 1985 and over the next decade led the team to league and cup titles. His St George’s team was the first team to win the Camel Cup three straight years, in 1988, 1989 and 1990, after the competition began in 1987 as the Premier Cup.
“We’re very pleased that Wendell showed interest in coming back home, the committee accepted him and brought him back on board,” said Neil Paynter, the St George’s president. “He knows what it takes to be successful, he’s been here before, so this is not new to him. Obviously we’re looking forward to bigger and better things.”
After leaving St George’s, Smith’s success as a coach continued at St David’s where he led the team to three league titles in four years. In the two years he was at Western Stars, where they achieved promotion and then finished fourth the next season.
Smith hinted last month “there is only one coaching job on the island that I would consider now”. That job has come his way and Smith is looking forward to the challenge of building on last season’s fourth-place finish in their first season back in the top division.
“I’m excited about it, it’s a challenge I’m looking for to and I’m just happy and pleased that St George’s have given me this opportunity,” Smith said yesterday.
“Last year I was down there helping Ryan for a couple of months but when you’re running your own programme obviously you can try to implement some changes and do things how you would like to do them.”
Smith will soon be laying out a programme for the upcoming season, meeting with league and prospective Cup Match players on Wednesday at 7pm at the club.
“I want to know right up front who is looking to make themselves available and lay out my plans to them as far as training schedules, code of conduct, expectations and goals,” added Smith, who is the deputy principal at West Pembroke Primary School.
“St George’s is where I started and who helped me accomplish what I did. They have a lot of positive things in place, beautiful grounds, wonderful resources for a coach to use and a good wicket.
“I made a promise to Neil back in 2015 that I would come back to St George’s when I was leaving St David’s, but I took a break and then went to Stars which was just two minutes from the school I work at.
“This was planned last year, preseason because Ryan has other interests he wants to pursue. It’s something I’m looking forward to because coaching is a passion of mine. I found myself on my school holiday working on something for the meeting, taking out a book I want to read called Elevating Your Game.”
Smith added: “I realise this is going to be a huge challenge but also within the challenge there is opportunity and it’s an opportunity to hopefully help St George’s establish a quality programme. We have some promising youngsters coming through the programme like Isaiah Greaves, Nzari Paynter and Chare Smith, who played Cup Match last year.
“It’s a case of helping them enjoy their cricket and to develop tactically and technically.”
Smith will use the success of previous St George’s teams as an example of what can be accomplished, although he accepts that things have changed over the past 30 years. “I never had to worry about whether they were coming to training, even guys who worked construction. Dean Minors used to make jokes that we must be trying to be a Test team, but the guys put in the work and in those days guys did a lot of extras.
“I just want guys who want to play, love the game and want to be part of a good programme.”