IPL 2014: Why CSK's Dwayne Smith is getting better with age

Just as Dwayne Smith was powering CSK towards a daunting target of 179 against Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla, the social media was abuzz with clamors of 'how did Mumbai Indians let Dwayne Smith go?'

The flamboyant West Indian consistently provided good starts to the Mumbai last year. He was Mumbai's top run-getter in the Champions League T20 (223 runs from 5 matches at 55.75) and played a crucial role in helping Mumbai clinch the title.

CSK recognised his worth and bought him for Rs 4.5 crore in the auction. The powerful West Indian has already justified his price tag with match-winning performances for the franchise.

He is currently the second-highest run getter in the tournament with 335 runs from seven matches at 47.85 with four fifty plus scores and this says a lot about his consistency.

Dwayne Smith of The Chennai Superkings during match 26 of the Indian Premier League Season 2014 between the Delhi Daredevils and the Chennai Super Kings. BCCI

Dwayne Smith of The Chennai Superkings during match 26 of the Indian Premier League Season 2014 between the Delhi Daredevils and the Chennai Super Kings. BCCI

Given the kind of talent and power the West Indian all-rounder possesses, he has remained an unfulfilled potential over the years. Smith had a dream start to his West Indies career, he burst onto the international scene with a match saving century against South Africa in the fourth innings in his debut match at Newlands, Cape Town in 2004. He brought up his century off just 93 balls and helped West Indies stem a run of seven consecutive defeats in South Africa.

His debut heroics helped him find a place in the ODI side and he was an ODI regular for the next three years.

However, inconsistencies started to surface and he was often criticised for his impatience at the crease and failing to convert starts. His Test career came to a halt in 2006 and that debut century remains his only fifty plus score in the longest format. He has had a roller-coaster ride in the limited overs internationals mainly because of his inconsistency.

Smith is someone who is ready to learn. Earlier, he was batting lower down the order but he realised his potential and made a decision to move up. Often criticised for his temperament, he has learnt to build his innings and pace his innings well.

He doesn't just go 'bang, bang' but rotates the strike with clever ones and twos and backs himself to clear the boundaries when needed. He has faced the most number of dot balls in the IPL so far - 97 - but also has most number of sixes - 24. He is second behind Glenn Maxwell (54) in the overall boundary count (49). Which means that he is ready to bide his time in the middle and then play his shots when required.

His partnership with Brendon McCullum at the top for CSK has worked wonders for the franchise. McCullum described Smith as a powerful and intelligent cricketer. “There is still a long way to go in the tournament, but I have certainly enjoyed my partnership with Dwayne Smith, ‘The Doctor’ It is great to bat with him because he is so powerful and has a lot of options in his batting,”

“He is a very intelligent cricketer as well. We seem to have a good rapport and get a good partnership going. It is nice to be able to contribute, and personally too I am enjoying my time with CSK so far.” McCullum was quoted as saying by the official website of IPL.

His stint with Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League brought about a renaissance in his career. His consistency has improved drastically, he has matured and his temperament has improved which is evident from the fact that he not only delivers while batting first but also scores crucial runs while chasing. He has been lethal both while batting first and chasing.

He credited Robin Singh, a part of the support staff of Mumbai Indians, for the turnaround.

"Once again I would credit Robin for working with me, especially helping me get control of my game. To survive in international cricket or any type of cricket you need to score runs. And you can't score runs just by smashing around. In between you have to work around the singles and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking," Smith said in a post match conference after powering CSK to a win over DD.

Over the years, we have seen flamboyant openers modify their slam bang approach to a more conservative one which has helped the team's cause. We've seen Chris Gayle change his approach over the last few years and that's something Smith seems to have learnt from the big man.

Smith's batting average in ODIs is just 17.07, he hasn't scored a century and his Test average is 24.61. It's been eight years since he has made an appearance in the longest format for the West Indies. Last year we saw how an IPL stint with Mumbai Indians brought about a renaissance in Mitchell Johnson's career and since then he has been in breathtaking form for Australia. Smith needs to learn how to make the turnaround count from his former Mumbai Indians teammate.

He's a live-wire in the field and his clever medium pacers can prove to be more than useful. He has worked hard on changing his overall approach. He has achieved consistency in the IPL but he needs to turn it around in the national colours too which might just pave the way for his comeback into the Test side.

Updated Date: May 06, 2014 17:04 PM

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