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Roles reversed as Clay Smith replaces brother Wendell as St George’s coach

Role reversal: brothers Clay Smith, left, and Wendell Smith talk to top player Allan Douglas Jr and captain Onias Bascome after winning last season's T20 competition. Clay is replacing Wendell as head coach of St George's this season. (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Clay Smith has replaced older brother Wendell Smith as head coach at St George’s Cricket Club for the upcoming season.

It will be a role reversal as Wendell will still be a selector and has already hinted that he will be available to help with the team, with Clay moving up from his role as assistant coach last season, when the team won their first trophy in several years, the T20 competition.

“I made that decision last year, once he started coming out to help me and I realised the quality and depth of his coaching skills,” Wendell said.

“He’s younger and extremely knowledgeable, and sometimes as a coach a different voice is needed. I think he’ll take St George’s to the next level, realising the depth of which he prepares, which I saw when he came down to help me.

“We decided to reverse the roles where he’s the head coach and I will help him as needed. It’s been a pleasure working down at St George’s.”

Smith served for three years in his latest stint, but his coaching of his boyhood team goes all the way back to 1985 when he combined that role with the captaincy after taking over from Clevie Wade as captain, transforming them into a formidable side.

Under Wendell Smith’s captaincy and coaching, St George’s were the first team to win three straight Premier Cup/Camel Cup titles from 1988 to 1990. They won two more Camel Cup titles in 1998 and 1998 for five titles overall to be the most successful team in the Camel Cup era up to 2003 when it became the Belco Cup.

Last season’s success certainly gives the club a foundation to build on for this season.

“The first year was really challenging because we had short numbers with a lot of players overseas in England and not coming back until June or July,” Wendell Smith said.

“We’re looking forward to carrying on this year where we left off. Last year the T20 was particularly encouraging with the results we had, the Bailey’s Bay and Rangers games in particular. We had to make 138 at Bay and got that with only two or three wickets lost.

“Then the Rangers game was phenomenal, to make 182 in 12 overs. That was one of the most electrifying games of cricket I’ve ever been involved in, it was amazing to see.”

Wendell plans to spend more time with a new passion, fishing. “I’m learning that fishing can also be very challenging,” he said.

Clay, a former national team coach, signed the deal to return to the club on the weekend after discussions with the president Neil Paynter.

“Wendell just decided to step away and take a break, do some fishing and spend time with his son,” Clay said.

“Last year, with me being there, it was felt that it was an easy transition for me to move into the head coaching role with him stepping down. He’s still going to be on the selection committee and come to a few training sessions when he can.

“I did coach down there a few years ago, and I’m looking forward to being at the helm full time. We had quite a successful season last year and I want to be able to build on that and continue what we started.”

Smith had a first training session scheduled for last evening at the St George’s Community Centre as they start a training regime in preparation for the new season which, it is hoped, will involve both 50 overs as well as T20 cricket.

“I’m just waiting for this Friday, which is the transfer deadline. There’s been talk about different players moving to St George’s,” the new coach said.

“Once Friday comes we’ll know exactly who we’ve got and then we can start to kick in. We’ll start training Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting early so that we can get our season off to a good start from Ball 1.”

Smith added: “I signed off on the contract last weekend, had a meeting a month or two ago with the president and he shared his ideas with me. I shared my thoughts and ideas with him and everything has been finalised.

“We’re really looking forward to some 50-overs cricket this season, getting things back to some normalcy.”

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Published March 02, 2022 at 7:39 am (Updated March 02, 2022 at 7:39 am)

Roles reversed as Clay Smith replaces brother Wendell as St George’s coach

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