Versatile Smit compared to wicketkeeping greats
Derbyshire knew they were getting a versatile cricketer in Daryn Smit who was signed as a top order batsman and a useful leg-spinner.
Smit quickly announced himself as a superb close fielder by taking a series of stunning slip catches in the opening matches but he also had another considerable talent.
When Gary Wilson was called away on international duty with Ireland, Smit took over as wicketkeeper and was so accomplished that his glove work has been compared to England greats Bob Taylor and Jack Russell.
Smit carried on behind the stumps when Wilson returned with a knee problem and delivered a master-class in the recent home county championship match against Leicestershire when he did not concede a single bye in a 600-plus total.
Derbyshire’s director of cricket Kim Barnett admits that Smit’s wicketkeeping prowess came as a complete surprise to him.
“I said we were going to sign Daryn as a batsman but I didn’t know the standard of wicketkeeper that he is,” he said. “The players were already saying that he’s one of the best two or three wicketkeepers in South Africa and then we saw just how good he is.
“When Gary wasn’t here, Billy (Godleman) went with Daryn on his ‘keeping alone, never mind the fact he’s averaging 36 in first-class cricket.
“No byes out of 600 runs is something Bob Taylor would have been proud of. I’ve played with Bob and Jack Russell and he is at that sort of standard which is some compliment.
“When I watched him at Trent Bridge and there’s no first slip, I know he must be a very good ‘keeper because Bob would do that. He would say ‘you go to second, you go to third and I’ll have first slip’ and that’s what Daryn does.
“You’ve got to be confident to do that and he is a real top drawer wicketkeeper. He’s a marvellous gloveman but I didn’t know so I can’t take any praise for that.”
Smit continued to keep in this week’s day/night match against Glamorgan and Barnett said Wilson is happy with the arrangement.
“They seem happy between the two of them and we’re happy that if Gary is fully fit and wants to keep wicket then Daryn goes to slip and we know he’s a brilliant slip fielder.
“We are lucky we have two guys who can bat and keep wicket. Gary is going to be away with Ireland from time to time and when he does, Daryn is there.”
Derbyshire’s first experience of pink ball cricket was also a memorable one for off-spinner Hamidullah Qadri who not only became the youngest player to represent them in the county championship at the age of 16 years and 203 days but was also the first player born in the year 2000 to play in the competition.
His first innings figures of 15 overs for only 16 runs and the wicket of Andrew Salter at Cardiff more than vindicated Derbyshire’s decision to play him.