County News – Will Smead chose his white ball route, but the ground was laid a generation ago.

In early 2019, Somerset filmed short video clips of academy players for their YouTube channel to introduce them to the club’s supporters.

They were each asked a series of rapid-fire questions: Childhood hero? If you could be a current cricketer, who would you be? Would you rather play in the Ashes, World Cup or IPL? Will Smead, then 17, answered the last question with a self-aware, self-assured air as he gave an answer he knew many English cricket fans would dread: he would for the IPL. were gone

It may be a hard answer to fathom – and one that shouldn’t be taken too seriously – but Smid is part of a generation that grew up with the tournament. From 2010–14, the IPL was the only top-level cricket available on free-to-air TV in the UK, regularly drawing half a million viewers every afternoon on ITV4 despite the disdain it was viewed by English organizers. was .

Samid was three when England won the 2005 Ashes on Channel 4: For most of his life, English cricket has been paying. The minority of young cricket fans with Sky subscriptions may have grown up on a diet of Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, but it was Kieron Pollard, MS Dhoni and AB de Villiers who made a lasting impression on the rest.
Samid has always been “an anomaly,” as he put it in a. The Daily Telegraph The interview after signing a Whiteball-only deal with Somerset on Monday. He played 55 professional T20 games before his 21st birthday and appeared in the Hundred, T20 Blast, Abu Dhabi T10 and PSL but not the County Championship nor the Royal London Cup. His talent is clear: on his 50-over debut this summer (in a game without List A status) he scored 90 off 56 balls against an attack that included Enrich Nortje and Lungi Ngadi. In August, he became Soo’s first century.
Samid’s decision is important. Other English players have quit first-class cricket in the past but the majority have done so late in their careers, not at the age of 21 and on the fringes of the England set-up. It’s a move that must have been noted and discussed by young players across the country in the last 24 hours.
Highly regarded as he progressed through Somerset’s age-group teams, Smid’s name first came to wider attention four years ago. Playing in the Second XI Championship at the age of 16, he put on 92 runs for the third wicket with 42-year-old Marcus Trescothick. Both made hundreds, and their stand made headlines.

This could prove to be the highlight of his Red Ball career. Samid insists he has not retired from multi-day cricket but, barring some creative choices for England’s Test team, it is hard to see a way back for him. England performance director Mo Bobbitt saw his decision coming. Talking about an episode of Unofficial companion The podcast, which was recorded last month, suggested that Smead “could have a purely whiteball career”.

And why shouldn’t it? An assumption has been made in English cricket that Tests must always come first, but for those of us who have grown up in the 21st century, the game is not set up that way. The genie has been out of the bottle since Samid was a toddler.

In practice, Smead’s decision may not change much: he has never played a first-class game and the depth of talent cultivated in Somerset’s academy means he finds himself well below the pecking order in a Championship team. gets His short-form dominance and long-form struggles have created the perfect storm for a unique decision.

If Samid gets a sweater in next month’s IPL auction – and his deal with MI Emirates in the ILT20 suggests he might – he could miss the first two months of the season. would go If he doesn’t, he will have two months between the end of the PSL and the start of the Blast, rather than playing cricket for another team in an “empty field with the sound of the wind”. play .

While money is clearly not his main motivation – he has already made a lot of money from cricket while most of his friends are accumulating debt from their student loans – his move also makes financial sense. When English players without national contracts stop playing in the IPL, they are obliged to return a certain portion of their salary to their counties. As a white-ball specialist, Smeed won’t have that problem when he’s signed in 2023.

England’s Test team under Brendon McCullum may have covered it up, but formats of the game are changing fast. The ODI series begins in Australia this week while the Test squad is training in Abu Dhabi. In February, the whiteball team will play warm-up games in Bangladesh before the second Test in New Zealand. Smead put it simply: “I’d rather be a master of a trade than a jack of all trades.”

During his school days, Samid was two years below Tom Benton – now his T20 opening partner – at the same King’s College Taunton boarding house. In 2019, Benton seemed to have the world at his feet: he was the Blast’s breakout star and scored five Championship fifties, juggling formats in spectacular fashion. Now, he is looking to restart his career after three difficult seasons in which his red-ball struggles spilled over into his white-ball game.
Instead, Smid went head-to-head: “I want to be the best player I can be, and to do that I believe that’s what I need to focus on,” he said. In the long-term, there may be some concerns over his adaptability – as Ben Stokes showed in Sunday’s World Cup final, T20 is not just about power hitting – but the 50-over clash with the Hundred is for him. There is a lack of cricket. The Royal London Cup is a big factor in his decision to put his red ball ambitions on ice.

In time, Samid will become a superstar: his fearless hitting and raw power have already drawn him to franchises around the world, and his decision this week marks him as an outlier. . But he is also part of a tranche of young players who have grown up with T20: don’t be surprised if and when others follow his lead.

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