Clay Smith returns to St George’s in coaching capacity
Clay Smith is going back to help brother Wendell with the coaching at St George’s Cricket Club this season.
“That’s very, very positive because the last time we coached together was 2011 when Lionel Cann scored the winning runs [in Cup Match] off Malachi Jones,” Wendell Smith told The Royal Gazette.
“Clay was the head coach at that time and I was one of three persons helping him. I reached out to him and asked him if he wanted to help me and he is glad to.”
Clay Smith, the former Bermuda coach, was last involved in coaching at club level with Flatts Victoria in 2019 but took a break last year just as the global pandemic was playing havoc with summer scheduling —and ultimately resulted in Cup Match being cancelled for the first time in its 118-year history.
“Of course the players are very welcoming of having him,” Wendell added. “He said he wanted to come and give back to St George’s; it’s obviously the club that helped to propel his career.“
The team also received an upgrade on the playing front, with Bermuda all-rounder Allan Douglas joining from Southampton Rangers and medium-pace bowler Jabari Darrell arriving from Cleveland County.
While some uncertainty over Cup Match and what it will look like in two months’ time, the head coach is excited about how the league team are shaping up for the season, which is set to make a delayed started on June 19.
“We had two excellent sessions, I was really pleased with them,” Smith said of the immediate aftermath when sports clubs were allowed to train together in the wake of a relaxation of government regulations.
It was Wendell who turned St George’s into one of the top teams in the league in the 1980s as player-coach after taking over the captaincy from Clevie Wade in 1984.
“We had many wonderful seasons back in the mid-1980s and early 1990s,” said Smith, who attended Larry “Cocky” Steede’s funeral at Wellington Oval last week.
Steede was one of the club’s most loyal fans in both cricket and football. “When I went to the funeral a flood of memories came back,” Smith said. “I think it was because of people like ‛Cocky’ Steede and ‛Tom Jones’ [the late Randy King] who were some of St George’s biggest fans back in our heyday.
“I was speaking to Clevie Wade and we were standing by the club, within feet of where he hit that six off Perry Maybury when he got his century in Cup Match [112 in 1985].
“It brought back memories and made me realise how proud St George’s people are of their traditions, with the team under [Cal] ‛Bummy’ Symonds in the 1960s and in the Eighties with Clevie, Noel [Gibbons], Charlie [Marshall], Graham Fox, Eugene Foggo, Ricky Hodsoll and David Adams.
“I made up my mind that I am going to push these guys just as hard as I pushed that team.
“I tested them the last two sessions and was really pleased because there was no complaining; they just worked. It was intense and beautiful to see as a coach.
“There is nothing more pleasing when you have sessions that go as you want them to go and you see a lot of enthusiasm, work ethic and positive results.”
Smith is pleased with the addition of Douglas and Darrell to the team.
“Allan Douglas is probably the No 1 fielder in Bermuda,” he said.
“Then there is the good news that our left-arm spinner, Isaiah Greaves, should have returned from England this week. He was a big miss last year.
“There are a lot of positive signs and we’ll keep working hard. Last year  was my first year back as head coach and this year looks to be more promising.
“Clay is a Level 3 coach, so am I, and he has a brilliant cricket brain. He’ll be able to give me lots of insight and advice.
“Clevie Wade has been a big help at [Cup Match] training sessions the last couple of years. The support staff at the club has been wonderful, too, with Mishael Paynter spearheading that, and Jelani Carlington.
”Barry Sousa comes to every single game and is first-class with helping behind the scenes.“
• St George’s will start training for potential Cup Match players tomorrow at Wellington Oval. That night there will also be a members’ meeting to discuss the prospects of the match going on, in particular the Government’s insistence on reduced attendance.