William Rew Smith
September 28, 1982, Luton, Bedfordshire
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
Bedford School, Durham University
Racing enthusiast Will Smith was part of four Championship-winning sides - a feat achieved by only a handful of players - in a career that spanned the best part of two decades, and involved two spells with Durham, the club he was most associated with.
Three of his Championship titles came there, including captaining the team to success in 2009. But he was released in 2013 and moved on to Hampshire, where he spent four seasons, before returning to a Durham side in straitened circumstances after their demotion by the ECB for financial mismanagement. Times were very different: when he left Durham they were one of the forces in the land; he returned during times of struggle and the exodus of their best players. But Smith's second coming was short-lived, and he announced his retirement midway through the 2019 season.
Smith's cricketing life began with Nottinghamshire, where he broke into the pennant-winning team towards the end of 2005. A double hernia and shoulder operations knocked him back but he returned in 2006 to score a maiden Championship century against Middlesex, only to leave for Durham at the end of the season.
He scored 925 runs at 51.38 as Durham won their maiden Championship in 2008 and a year later took over the captaincy from Dale Benkenstein and contributed another 700 runs to a second title. But 2010 proved a disaster, Smith played just five games and resigned the captaincy with Phil Mustard taking over. He contemplated retirement but injury to opener Mark Stoneman in the first match of the 2011 season created a vacancy and Smith returned to form with a century against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in late May, his first for more than 18 months. With two more hundreds, Smith's form over the season was on a par with 2008 but he still couldn't break the 1000-run barrier.
A year later and Smith was back in the doldrums with 509 runs in 14 matches but showing significant resolve he came again in 2013 and was ever-present as Durham claimed a third title in five seasons. But it didn't save his career in the northeast and Durham released him with financial worries mounting.
He moved to Hampshire for 2014 and enjoyed his best season to date, making 1187 runs at 51.60 in the County Championship as his new team won Division Two. Smith also found a role with his offspin in T20 cricket. In a most-unexpected bonus for Hampshire, Smth took 20 wickets to help the county to a fifth-consecutive Finals Day - the sixth-best return in the competition.
Hampshire offered him a two-year deal and he found a new lease of life on the south coast, playing all but two of the county's matches in 2015, a season in which he was awarded his county cap. Captaincy was back on the bill in 2016 as he stood in with James Vince on England duty and he could also point to a career-best 210 against Lancashire; Hampshire were relegated in an injury-ravaged season only to be reprieved when his old club, Durham, were relegated instead after an ECB bailout. A year later, he moved back to Durham to try to put things right.
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