“I feel that my game is better suited to white-ball cricket,” Smeed said in Somerset’s press release. “After a huge amount of thorough and considered discussions, I feel that I need to solely focus my attention on the limited-overs formats in order to become the very best cricketer I can be.
“I can assure people that this [is] not a decision that I’ve taken lightly, and I’ve spoken to a lot of people about it. I want to be the best player that I can be, and to do that I believe that this needs to be my focus.”
“I know how much our members love red-ball cricket, but unfortunately I haven’t been performing how I would like to in the longer form of the game,” Smeed added. “The easy option would have been to carry on playing red-ball cricket and try to fit everything in and reach a certain level across all formats, but I want to try to be the best that I can be.
“To achieve this, I feel that I need to focus on excelling in one format. I’m certainly not saying that I’ll never play red-ball cricket again. I just feel that this is the right decision for me and Somerset at the current time.”
Most significantly, he has a deal with MI Emirates – the franchise run by Mumbai Indians’ owners Reliance in the ILT20, the new UAE league – and he appears certain to put his name forward for December’s IPL auction. If selected, he would miss the first two months of the Championship season regardless of his Somerset contract.
Andy Hurry, Somerset’s director of cricket, said that the club supported Smeed’s decision. “As a club we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that our players fulfil their aspirations, and we therefore support Will in this decision,” he said. “White-ball only contracts are not new in the game and are not new at Somerset. The game is developing all the time and I sense that we will see more contracts of this type emerging across the world.
“Will is an exceptional talent and has the potential to have an incredibly successful career. At this stage he is not drawing a permanent line under his red-ball future, and this is currently the best way forward for both Will and the club.
“He has all the attributes to become a very successful white-ball player and I am sure that our members and supporters will enjoy seeing him continue to improve. He has a very important role to play in limited-overs cricket for Somerset for many years to come.”
Smeed had previously signed a one-year extension with Somerset earlier this year, which was due to expire at the end of the 2023 season. His new deal runs until the end of the 2024 season.