Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Cricket: KEEP IT SIMPLE; Three-Page Special on Durham's Clash with Hampshire Smith: Durham Have to Relax and Enjoy the Day FACE TO FACE DURHAM SPECIAL

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Cricket: KEEP IT SIMPLE; Three-Page Special on Durham's Clash with Hampshire Smith: Durham Have to Relax and Enjoy the Day FACE TO FACE DURHAM SPECIAL

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHN GIBSON

GEORDIE bad boy Paul Smith, banished from cricket as a drug user, still defiantly walked away from his sport with an impressive haul of six trophies won as part of an all-conquering Warwickshire side.

And as the North East braces itself for its own Lord's cup final tomorrow Smith believes Durham can follow him into the record books.

Should they claim the Friends Provident Trophy by repelling Hampshire's considerable challenge then it will signal Durham's coming of age in first-class cricket.

Sixteen years they have waited for the glint of a prize but Smith, a Geordie standard-bearer in nineties one-day cricket, is convinced that the bunting can be unveiled.

"The secret is to keep everything plain and simple," said Smith, man of the match when Warwicks won the 1994 Benson and Hedges Cup final at Lord's. "Everything is down to preparation.

"It may be a special match, like the FA Cup final at Wembley, but you dare not treat it as such or you'll do yourself a disservice.

"We lost our first two Lord's cup finals before we swept the board and all of us learned a lot. I was 12th man at 18 when we lost to Surrey and played in Warwickshire's next final when we were badly beaten by Lancashire.

"I remember the team talks before both matches. We were told to take in the occasion, breathe it, live it and enjoy it. Why?

"We wouldn't approach any other match insisting we must enjoy it so why in a final?

"We got stuffed enjoying it! Go out, win it, then enjoy it.

"Players hype up the game and pay the penalty. For example some will go to bed early because it's a cup final but they wouldn't do it for a county match so why here?

"All they will do is toss and turn all night and then probably freeze on the day.

"Durham must forget the glamour and decide they are 11 guys going down the pit to put in a hard shift at the coal face, then they will have a great chance of victory. That's what this area is about and that sort of guts can win it."

The showpiece final will, for most people, be a battle of strength between one of the world's greatest one-day cricketers Paul Collingwood and the world's finest exponent of spin bowling Shane Warne.

"Sure they are the marquee names," said Smith. "Collingwood is a fabulous all-round one-dayer which is why he skippers England.

"He's a tough lad who gives no quarter, a cricketer with a good brain who doesn't panic under pressure.

"He's learned a lot about himself over the last year and scored a double century against Warne in Aussie.

"As long as he doesn't take on everybody else's responsibilities and plays his own game he'll be a massive plus for Durham.

"Warne, of course, is called Hollywood because he's made for the big stage. He thrives in situations like tomorrow.

"However, Shane wouldn't be the first star name in a final not to have the game he wanted.

"Malcolm Marshall was a legend, but I remember him telling me that he felt more pressure playing a cup final for Hampshire at Lord's than a Test for the West Indies. …

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