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West Pembroke honour Smith

Special tribute: Wendell Smith was honoured by West Pembroke for his contribution to cricket(Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

West Pembroke Primary School honoured one of their own yesterday when Wendell Smith, their vice-principal, was recognised for his long contribution to cricket as a player, coach and commentator as part of Heritage Month. Smith, who coaches Premier Division Western Stars, sat shocked as he was honoured by the staff and students during the morning assembly.

Several of the students read Smith’s accomplishments which included making his debut in Cup Match aged 16, captaining the St George’s team, sharing in a double-century partnership with his younger brother Clay in 1992 and becoming the first batsman to score 1,000 runs in Cup Match. He was also Cup Match MVP in 1991 and 1992.

The tribute to Smith came moments after Wayne Raynor, an official from Pacers Track Club, presented the school with their Primary School relay title, their sixth in nine years.

If Smith thought the assembly would end soon after he was in for a surprise as Clay, former cricketer Allen Richardson and Smith’s wife Leanora, who were in on the surprise, came out from backstage as the focus switched to Smith.

“Today, Mr Smith, this assembly is dedicated to you and there are friends here today who have come out to help us celebrate your contribution to our sporting heritage,” a teacher announced.

Richardson, who opened the batting with Smith in Eastern Counties and Cup Match and is now a commentating colleague on ZBM, shared with the students his experiences of playing with Smith.

“When I played my first Cup Match [1978] he and I opened the innings in Somerset and we always had a great time together,” said Richardson, who was voted MVP in 1983 after his batting helped St George’s win back the cup they lost in 1979.

“You have in Wendell Smith certainly one of the best teachers you could ever have.

“As a cricketer he was one of the best, very meticulous in his preparation and as a coach he is very, very good as well. He was a sportsman in every sense of the word, very disciplined both on and off the field and that’s very, very important.”

Clay Smith, the Bermuda coach, told the students of his time playing with his brother, his role model.

“He taught me that if you want to be successful in cricket you have to go that extra mile,” said Smith, recalling some of the gruelling training sessions his brother put him through.

“Most cricketers would train Tuesdays and Thursdays but if you go down to St George’s during the week you would see the players two or three times a week running on the causeway to get fit.

“We trained very hard and were very competitive. In the late Eighties and early Nineties St George’s won the league title and won three Camel Cup trophies back-to-back and that was because of his leadership skills as a captain and coach.

“In Cup Match 1992, he and I batted from 10.30am until 5pm and put on a 200-run partnership. We were just 29 runs away from the all-time record of partnerships in Cup Match, but unfortunately I got out and spoilt it. It was a great accomplishment as both of us scored our first hundreds in Cup Match together.”

Turning to his brother, Clay added: “As a brother I just want to say you have definitely been a role model for me to emulate and I want to say thank you.”

Wendell Smith admitted the tribute caught him by surprise.

“We had a saying in St George’s that you don’t have to be a professional to train like one,” said Smith, who thanked his wife for her patience and support while cricket consumed much of his time.

“You could be a little boy from Pembroke or Devonshire and you could end up in England playing football like Nahki Wells. Some of you have dreams of doing that,” Smith said.

“And if you work really, really hard and you really want it to happen you can make it happen. You can make your dreams come true by training really hard.

“I was a little boy who lived right by the field at Wellington Oval and watched all those famous people, Lloyd James, Rupert Scotland, Dennis Wainwright, Calvin ‘Bummy’ Symonds train and would throw the ball back to them when they were playing and I said one day I want to play Cup Match.

“What really amazed me was people would run onto the field and put money in your pocket when you got 50 or 100 runs, the only country that allows that. I thought, ‘wow, wouldn’t that be nice to one day have that happen to me’.

“But I really didn’t play for the money, it was the love of cricket.”

Smith’s Western Stars team are at home to St David’s in the Premier Division tomorrow.