With the impending return of Club Professional – Daryn Smit, following an absence of three seasons away with Derbyshire CCC, we ask him his thoughts on the season ahead as skipper of RCC.
Having announced last week that you have retired from the professional game as a player, what’s next for Daryn Smit at DCCC?
I have just been appointed as the Head of Talent Pathway at Derbyshire. In a nutshell everything from u/11 to our senior academy and all the coaches within those age groups now falls under my management. At the same time as taking on this new role, I am also in the 1st year of doing my level 4.
You obviously played a number of sub-pro games last season in the Lancashire League; what’s your thoughts on the new format?
The new format is great. The standard of the 1st division is now right up there with the strongest I've seen. There are no easy games and last year's results just proved it as no team dominated or were unbeatable. No fixtures outcome is predictable anymore.
Having left Acre Bottom at the end of the 2016 season, in which Rammy won the league. What, if anything has changed at RCC?
A new cell phone tower I believe!!! Personnel have certainly shifted in the last 3 years. That is the nature of the beast and the circle of life. Looking forward to this season, we have a good balance of youth and experience. On paper we are lining up brilliantly but as we all know, the game unfortunately is not played on paper.
RCC have lost ‘Mr RCC’ (Tom Parton) in the winter, however on paper you look to have strengthened well. What are your aspirations for you and the team in 2020?
Tom is a massive loss. Captain, opening batsman, wicketkeeper! Unfortunately you can't just replace all that with only 1 player. We have recruited well in the winter. We are fortunate that with such great facilities and structures, we are a desirable club for players to want to join without having to throw money at them to try seal a deal. Harry Caton will don the gloves whilst Jake Clarke and Kieran Grimshaw will add experience and expertise in our batting and bowling departments. It's easy to hide behind the old excuse of rebuilding after having lost players but in all honesty I will be challenging our players and I will be disappointed if we aren't in the running for the league come September.
What are your favourite grounds in the Lancashire League?
Ramsbottom. Some will say I'm biased but I know that many will agree. Purely on weight of runs, Lowerhouse has been a great ground to me. Long may that continue? In all my years playing in the lancs league all I've ever heard is how good Todmorden is. Sods law every time I've played there it's been wet and gloomy. Here's hoping 2020 changes that.
Who do you see as title contenders this season?
Apart from Rammy? I'd never write off Lowerhouse and Burnley would do well to go back to back and defend their title. But never underestimate the Erasmus factor; what a great signing that was!
There has been a number of returning professionals to the Lancashire League in 2020 including Kelly Smuts, Shaun Von Berg and Ashar Zaidi.
Who, in your opinion are the ‘stand out’ signings? I think you've nailed it. All three are terrific club pro's. Thank goodness we only have to play Kelly. Ockie was a very swift and smart move from Burnley. I've not seen Obus Pienaar for a few years but he was definitely a handy cricketer back then.
We’re obviously still in January; however how will your team prepare for the coming season?
We start fitness training mid-January for an 8 week block and then we have a 4 week block of indoor nets.
Which players are you looking forward to sharing a dressing room with again? (For both the right and wrong reasons!!!)
All three Fielding’s are always a delight to share a dressing room (and a shower) with. Apple and the tree!!!
It will be great to be on the same side as Jake Clarke and Kieran Grimshaw, rather than playing against them!
Finally: your thoughts on the Lancashire League. A number of past players have mentioned that, “it’s not as good as it used to be!” Obviously the international pros are few and far between. However where does the LL sit in terms of strength and standards?
Undoubtedly the level of professional’s has diminished over the years. The landscape of cricket has changed so much since the turn of the century. It's not a Lancashire problem. It's not even an English problem.
Around the world, cricket is not what it used to be. People need to change with the times, adjust their way of thinking and try finding the positives in what they have in front of them.
I wonder how many other things in their lives those same people are describing with that same negative phrase....."It’s not as good as it used to be"