Smith hopes for better in 2013
Of all Lancashire’s players, Tom Smith perhaps has the biggest reason to want to see the back of 2012.
Hampered by hamstring and thigh problems, the all-rounder - who turns 27 on Boxing Day - was limited to six championship appearances. Whereas he hit 459 runs and took 25 wickets in 12 games during 2011, this year’s equivalent returns were 91 and four.
Smith featured in March’s champion county game with MCC at Abu Dhabi but tore a hamstring in the pre-season match with Cambridge MCCU at Fenner’s. A month later, on his first-team comeback versus Nottinghamshire at Old Trafford, he aggravated the same injury in only his third over.
His return in mid-June was more successful. However, just after the Lightning’s Friends Life t20 campaign - that ended at the group stage - the thigh injury struck, keeping him out of first-team action until late August.
Smith featured for the last three weeks of the season, only to be involved in a home Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-final loss to eventual runners-up Warwickshire and the championship defeat to Middlesex at Lord’s that confirmed Lancashire’s relegation.
“I just can’t wait to get out there after last season with all the injuries,” he told ecb.co.uk.
“We’re pretty full on now until the season starts so we need to make sure what we do is specific to what we’re going to do for the summer.
“I had three injuries, two hamstrings and a thigh muscle, which obviously is extremely frustrating. But that’s cricket and that’s sport. It’s part of it really.
“We’ve got a good medical team at Old Trafford, who got me fit again, and are working hard this winter to make sure it doesn’t happen again next season.”
While Smith’s woes had kept from his best form earlier in the campaign, his third comeback was marked by a purple patch.
Against Worcestershire at New Road in a game later abandoned due to rain, the left-handed batsman flayed the third-fastest domestic List A hundred. The 44-ball century, that featured 10 sixes and eight fours, was fifth quickest format ton worldwide.
Smith fell for 106, having added 150 in 15 overs with opening partner Stephen Moore who went on to 113 for the already group winners.
The flexible nature of Smith’s batting was on show next day when he made the bulk of Lancashire’s top-score 91 from 209 deliveries in the rain-hit home draw with Durham.
“When you spend time on the sidelines seeing the lads play you get a bit jealous,” he admitted. “It was just good to get out there and play. I’d been working hard at my game when I’d had the chances.
“When you’re injured you get the chance to think about your game and what you’re doing so it was a great opportunity for me to learn, and then take that into the games and do well straight away was a real bonus for me.”
The CB40 semi immediately followed, but cheaply snaring Rikki Clarke was Smith’s main contribution as the hosts ended 23 short of the Bears’ 250. Having fallen early for six, he had to watch as Paul Horton’s 63-ball 78 lacked support.
“We thought we probably should have won that game. We didn’t quite perform with the bat on the day but Paul Horton played a blinder of a knock and nearly got us home,” he said.
“We thought the pitch was a good pitch and we’ve only ourselves to blame really. If one of the top order had stuck around with Horts I’m sure we would have got over the line, but unfortunately it wasn’t our day.
Next up was the championship meeting with Middlesex, in which Smith’s 55 aided a slim first-innings lead. Yet Lancashire were set 304 to win and, given fellow strugglers Surrey had surprisingly beaten Nottinghamshire, had to chase hard on the last afternoon and lost by 109 runs.
“With regards to the game at Lord’s, it was frustrating. (It was) a pretty placid pitch and to get a result was quite tough,” he added.
“The lads tried hard and unfortunately it just didn’t quite turn out for them that day and with results going other ways we found ourselves relegated.”
Smith finished the term with a smooth 83 in a rain-ruined draw versus Surrey at Aigburth, soon after which there were frank discussions about what went wrong in the championship.
Having contributed two important innings in England’s Hong Kong Sixes campaign over the last weekend of October, he began pre-season training in mid-November.
“We had a little talk at the end of the year about what happened and addressed it all then so we could come into the winter with a fresh start,” he revealed.
“We know exactly what we need to do as a club and as players and individuals so we’ve got to focus entirely on what we want to do.”