The cricketing decline of Derbyshires Trevor Smith was one of the most disappointing events at Derby in recent years. His early appearances earmarked him as yet another county born seam and swing bowler of quality. In only his second First-class appearance he took 6-32 (8-38 in the match) to tumble Essex to an unlikely defeat in a desperately low scoring match. His next match (against a South African XI) saw promotion to new ball duties, and he responded with 5-88, despite the tourists racking up 453-9 declared. If finishing the 1998 season with his wickets costing just 23.04 had been impressive, then to take them at just 20.83 in 1999 was yet further evidence that Derbyshire had found an excellent bowler. However, for Smith, cricket was a game that got harder, not easier, with time. A bone spur in his left ankle badly affected both availability and form, to such an extent that the 2000 season saw his wickets costing 63.44, although his determination to improve as a cricketer was evidenced in his maiden First-class fifty. The following season saw a return to form of sorts, with every scalp costing just under 35. However, there was no doubt that the control of line and length which had served him so well (and which had been in the best tradition of Derbyshire seam bowling) was still elusive. Despite this, it was still a genuine surprise when Derbyshire released Smith at the end of 2001. As a locally born and bred 24 year old with excellent seasons and performances already behind him, Smith almost certainly should have deserved at least another season. What added further annoyance to the decision was that Derbyshire had just collected the Championship wooden spoon, and so werent exactly suffering from a surplus of talent. Perspective hasnt made the decision any easier to understand, as none of those seamers signed since (Ali, Kerr, Havell, Gunter, Walker, Sheikh etc) recorded figures close to Smiths best. He was always used sparingly in limited-overs cricket (the reason being that he was being saved for the Championship), although when Derbyshire lost the 1998 Natwest final at a horribly damp and gloomy Lords, many felt that Smiths bowling could have been a real asset. He has played for Suffolk in their C & G Trophy campaigns of the past four seasons, and in September 2005 he captained league side Ockbrook & Borrowash to the Derbyshire Premier League title.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 Matthew Reed)