OPENER Josh Smith is set to become the most capped first- grade player in Rockingham-Mandurah’s 15-year history this weekend.
Smith will play his 141st and 142nd first-grade matches if selected to take on Joondalup tomorrow and Fremantle on Sunday in the Marin- ers’ back-to-back round three and four WA Premier Cricket clashes.
The stocky right-hander was an inaugural season member at 16 in 2000/01 and was the club’s 13th capped first-grade player; He has scored more than 7000 runs for the club, 3815 coming in first grade at an average of 24.30 and a top score of 160.
He played junior cricket for the club from 1996.
Now 32, Smith said it was a “nice feeling” to be on the verge of breaking the club’s first-grade games record, as he had to battle back from two knee reconstructions.
“I didn’t know I’d get to play as many games as I have given the two knee reconstructions,” he said.
“I’ve been playing for the club for most of my life and it means a lot to play for them still and break the record, but I’m sure someone else will come along and break the record eventually.”
Smith said current Rockingham-Mandurah captain Craig Simmons was the best player he’d played with at the club, and the pair grew up together, playing junior club and district cricket together before playing first grade as teammates.
Having faced the cream of WA’s bowlers over the past 15 years, including current Australian one-day representative Nathan Coulter-Nile, who he described as “20km/h quicker than anyone else”, and former Test players Matthew Nicholson and Brad Williams, it is former English quick Duncan Spencer Smith remembers with most reverence.
“Duncan Spencer was the quickest bowler I’ve ever faced; he was genuinely scary and you felt like he wanted to kill you,” Smith said.
Smith is excited about the season ahead for the Mariners, who have won their first two games and have the “best team on paper” they have had in his time at the club.
“The balance of this team, having Simmons and Diamanti available all year, guys like Dane Ugle and Brayden Sutton, and bowlers like young Kyle Gardiner, this is probably the best team we’ve had since we won the Twenty20 flag,” he said.