Down the Pathway: Daryn Smit on Challenges

Wednesday 19th August 2020
& News
Written by Stephen Martin

In the first of a three-part series, we sit down with Head of Talent Pathway, Daryn Smit, to discuss how he has settled into his role, and the challenges presented by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Smit moved into his new role in January, announcing his retirement from playing professional cricket in the process, and he quickly set about putting his mark on the pathway system.

The former wicketkeeper-batsman outlined his plans for Derbyshire’s Academy prospects to continue their development within the system, while they also work closely with the first team coaching setup.

Having taken on the new role, which will see a greater emphasis on the club’s Talent Pathway as a whole, Smit’s goal of bringing the young players closer to a first team environment started with a week in India, in which they worked on their game in different conditions, and focussed on improving how they played spin.

With players working with local coaches in the sub-continent, as well as performing in two Twenty20 fixtures, the progress was halted by the Coronavirus pandemic, the ramifications of which have been felt at all levels of the game, but Smit believes the trip will prove crucial in the development of players.

“My first few months were really exciting, we were starting to build momentum and I was getting to know the players, then March came, and we all went into lockdown,” said Smit.

“It was very frustrating, because we were very limited to what we could do, so it stunted any sort of development made throughout the start of the year.

“India was a great thing for our boys, it really gave me the chance to get to know our players more, and to see their development over that week was huge. The boys who arrived at the start of that trip, and the ones who left it, were different people.

“But then we’ve had to wait so long, we recently had a session at Repton on some really turning wickets and it almost looked like we had never been to India. I had to have a harsh word with the boys and say ‘look, we spent all this money on the trip, jog your memories and remember what you have learnt.

“It’s not ideal to have a productive trip like that and then wait so long to get back in the middle, but we can’t control that. Watching the way the boys are playing now, you can see that it was a worthwhile trip.”

Having had to wait the best part of four months to begin working with players again, Smit and the Academy coaches have been able to see just how big an affect the gap has had on them.

The Head of Talent Pathway admits that lockdown has created a number of challenges for all players, but it also creates an opportunity to show resilience.

“It’s been quite interesting just to watch players after lockdown and to see how the break has affected them differently,” he added.

“For some of our players, you can see that they haven’t done much for a few months and they’re rusty. Then, you have some of the others who you can tell have been exercising in the good weather, maybe netting in their back garden, they have come back fresher.

“It’s affected everyone differently, but you learn a lot about individuals when you see them faced with adversity. They have had three or four months of challenges, and now some are having to play catch-up, while others are flying ahead and creating a bit of a gap.

“The positive is that we can see that gap, and it will give us a better idea of where our talent is, going forward.”

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