Smith wants to take his game to the next level

Statistically speaking most players would be satisfied, even exhilarated, by a season return of 500 four-day runs and 20 wickets in their first full franchise season.

Not Jason Smith, though. The 22-year-old batting all-rounder of the Cape Cobras is slightly disgruntled with his own season. Sure, he enjoyed the century off 88 balls against the VKB Knights, but laments the fact that he did not convert three half-centuries into big tons.

“If I had capitalized on good starts, I could have moved closer to the 700-run mark for the season,” he said.

Smith said the Cape Cobras possess almost the perfect environment for a younger player like him to excel in and to move to the next level in four-day and one-day cricket.

He said Andrew Puttick would come to him or any younger player after a soft dismissal and discuss a possible different option.

Stiaan van Zyl, similarly, is keen to discuss the technique and approach to the game with younger evolving players and impart knowledge with them.

“Justin Ontong is similar. He is almost like a batting coach and helps the younger players,” he said.

Ontong was captain of the SA ‘A’ team for a prolonged period in which South Africa twice defeated Australia ‘A’ and drew against a top-order heavy India. He was also skipper of South Africa in a T20 International against the West Indies in Durban in 2015.

Smith said he prefers to play the ball as late as possible, to drive it when it is under his nose. He also likes it when fast bowlers play so-called chin music and tempt him with bouncers.

“But I don’t try to overthink it and get too involved,” he adds.

“One of my dreams this season is to get into the South Africa ‘A’ team.  Obviously I would like to take it from there.

“If given a choice, I would prefer to bat at number four,” said Smith, who was one of the major success stories of the national academy in-take in 2016.

A former South African U19 member, Smith says he would like to add a yard of pace to his bowling. “That would be perfect,” he added.

Smith fulfilled the role of fourth seam bowler with distinction. He swung it, used the off-cutter expertly and also did not allow the opposition to transfer the pressure.

Smith says he will join the Sport Skills for Life Skills programme (SS4LS) at the University of the Western Cape in the off-season of 2017 and enrol in a B.Comm degree.

“I was not the hardest academic worker at Wynberg Boys’ High, but I did get the desired results and would like to complete my degree in the designated time frame,” he said.

Under the astute leadership of Nicolas Kock, executive director of the SS4LS programme  Prof Johann Graaff, the University of the Western Cape have produced excellent cricketers, superb leaders and close to 120 graduates since the inception of the holistic programme.

It is likely to benefit Smith, who has made rapid strides for the Cape Cobras since scoring a 50 in his first Momentum One Day Cup match for the franchise two seasons ago.