Dwayne Smith has justified his selection for the World Cup with a match-winning performance in the opening game against Pakistan on Tuesday. When West Indies' squad was announced in February, there was strong opposition to Smith's inclusion.
However, Smith repaid the faith when he was adjudged Man of the Match for hitting 32 off 15 balls and taking 3 for 36, including the crucial wickets of Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamam-ul-Haq. "I'm always confident in myself and I don't worry too much about what people say," Smith told AFP after the victory. "I just go out there and do my job, and do it to the best of my ability.
"It was a great start for me personally, but I think it was a solid team performance and one that will give us plenty of confidence as we look towards the remainder of the tournament. Although I have been pushed lower and lower in the batting order, it has not really affected my confidence. It has just made me realise that I have to work harder and harder in the nets, and that is what I am prepared to do."
In 20 matches leading up to the World Cup, Smith had averaged 7.40 with the bat and 38.43 with the ball. Gordon Greenidge, the convenor of selectors, had said that he was not convinced about Smith's selection.
"Personally, I'm not convinced. I'm partly convinced. I feel that the guy has a lot going for him but he doesn't show it as often as we would like him to," Greenidge had told The Nation. "Unfortunately, in recent times, his bowling takes more precedence than his batting. I would like to see him develop more into a total player, an all-round player."
The coach Bennett King, however, backed Smith's potential and said he was a matchwinner with the bat. Brian Lara also supported Smith and wanted him to go from strength to strength. "His performance was excellent, and he knows that, and from here what he wants to do is build on it, not just sit back and think I've started well and that's it," Lara said. "We've hopefully got ten more games in the tournament and he is looking for a performance like this every time." West Indies face Zimbabwe in their second group match at Sabina Park on Monday.