Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Durham Star Smith Takes Responsibility for His Own Future; Cricket

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Durham Star Smith Takes Responsibility for His Own Future; Cricket

Article excerpt

HAVING wrested back control of his Durham career, Will Smith has been given two more years to enjoy life in the North East.

The right-hander has been awarded an extension to his contract after what threatened to be his last season at Chester-le-Street. Smith, who led the Riversiders to the 2009 County Championship was ousted as captain the following May and did not play four-day cricket again that year.

But an injury to Mark Stoneman allowed Smith back in for the second game of 2011, and he never relinquished his place.

Opening the batting - a role he previously struggled in - he made 978 First-Class runs at an average of 39.12, his biggest tally in a season. He was also Durham's fielder of the year.

"When things like this happen, whatever stance the club takes it's only ever up to the individual how their career progresses," said the 29-yearold.

"They were very open for me to come back (into the first team) as long as I was performing well. It was just a case of me getting into a frame of mind and getting myself fit so there were no excuses. That was my main goal really."

Although he started his professional career at Nottinghamshire, Bedfordborn Smith is a Durham University graduate with an affinity for the region. His first child will be born here in December. It only made Smith more determined to extend his time in the North East.

"I've come to learn over the last few years there's only one person responsible for your career and that's you," he said. "I was guilty when I was younger of looking for excuses.

"I love the way people approach life up here and the way they follow their sport. It's very different to a lot of areas of the country. People up here are quite fanatical in a really good way.

"I'd love to call this my home for a long time. It really helps when you're settled in somewhere."

Smith feels that for himself and his county 2011 was a good season, but with plenty of scope for improvement.

"We did well this year but we could have done better," he reflected. "We set the standards over those three years from 2007-2009. The last few years have not matched those levels. …

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