West Indian opener Dwayne Smith made a wonderful 97 in the second ODI versus India at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi on Saturday. Surprisingly, this is his highest score in one-day cricket till date. Smith made his one-day debut more than a decade back in January 2004 against South Africa. However, his career never picked up after that. In fact, he has managed only 93 games since his debut. His ODI figures are staggeringly poor. In spite of his 97 on Saturday, he averages only 18.5 with seven hundreds. His bowling figures are actually more impressive – 60 wickets averaging 36.5.
The story is pretty similar for Smith in Tests as well. He made a sensational entry with a run-a-ball unbeaten 105 on his Test debut against South Africa at Cape Town in January 2004. But, he was dumped after his 10th Test in 2006 against New Zealand at Napier. Smith has managed only 320 runs in these matches at a poor average of 24.6 with a sole hundred and no fifties. It has been incredible with figures like that that Smith has managed to turn his career around, and rather stunningly at that.
His Test career may be all but over, but it has been in T20 that Smith has found his real calling, more specifically the Indian Premier League. Opening the innings, first for Mumbai Indians and now for Chennai Super Kings, he has tasted plenty of success, which has facilitated his comeback into the West Indian ODI as well as T20 teams. Smith has played 51 matches in the Indian Premier League and has scored 1423 runs at an impressive average of 31 with ten half-centuries and a highest of 87 not out. Smith’s strike rate in the IPL has been highly impressive – 135.
Ever since his comeback into the West Indian side, he has been a totally different player, emboldened by his success in the Indian T20 league. After a two-year long absence from the one-day side, Smith returned to the one-day side against England at Southampton in June 2012. Smith made 56 in that game to resurrect his career at that point. He added an unbeaten 65 against New Zealand at Kingston only a couple of games later. After a few failures, he came back to form with 55 against Ireland at Kingston earlier this year. In the current series against West Indies, he has registered scores of 46 and 97.
In 30 international T20s, he has so far made 540 runs with three half-centuries at a strike rate of 124. Smith has given West Indies some very impressive starts in recent times. He made 63 against Australia and 70 against England in successive games in 2012, and his highest score of 72 against Bangladesh at Dhaka in March 2014. In other games as well, he has got off to good starts. From the lows of 2004 to the highs of 2014, it has been one incredible roller-coaster journey.
--By A Cricket Analyst