Changed Smith avoiding pressure for Sri Lanka series

NO PRESSURE: Devon Smith will be looking to enjoy his cricket against Sri Lanka.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad,  CMC – Veteran left-hander Devon Smith says he is putting himself under no pressure to perform, as he prepares to play his first Test in three years starting here tomorrow.

The 36-year-old said in the past he had often placed too much pressure on himself but had since matured and learnt how to enjoy his cricket, and this was the attitude he would be taking into the three-match series against Sri Lanka.

“I’ll just go out there and enjoy my cricket. I think now I enjoy my cricket more than before,” Smith told reporters here yesterday during a practice session.

“I used to put much more pressure on myself, thinking about [being dropped] and if I was going to make runs and whatever was going to happen, but I’ve put all that behind me and I just go out there and be positive.”

He added: “There’s all to gain, nothing to lose.”

An opener, Smith has averaged 24 in an underwhelming 38-Test career but forced his way back into the selectors frame with heaving scoring in the last first class season, when he carved out a chart-topping 1095 runs at an average of 84 with six centuries.

He was also the leading batsman in the 2015-16 campaign with 719 runs and one of only seven batsmen to pass 600 runs the following season.

Smith said nothing much had changed about his game other than his hunger for big scores and trying to capitalise on starts.

“It’s just that when I get starts I try and carry on and try to bat for as long as possible,” the Grenadian explained.

“I scored six centuries – you score five you try to get one more. Scoring runs, it motivates you to push for more.”

He continued: The first thing I have to do is get a start. Once I get a start I can, I can consolidate and so on. Scoring runs is a matter of occupying the crease and once you occupy the crease, there’s the possibility that runs will come and I’ll take it from there.

“I’ve been hitting the ball good in the nets so far so I just hope to continue from where I left off in the four-day [championship].”

The series for West Indies will be first one since the disastrous tour of New Zealand where they failed to win a single match across all three formats.

Also, the Caribbean side will be facing Sri Lanka for the first time since their drubbing three years ago when they lost by an innings in Galle and 72 runs in Colombo.

However, Smith said the mood in the side was upbeat and they were very motivated heading into the series.

“The mood is very good. I think the guys are up for it,” he noted. “The guys are very motivated. The guys are just waiting for the day to reach to go out there and execute their skills.”

The first Test will be played at Queen’s Park Oval, with the second carded for the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground from June 14-18.

Kensington Oval in Barbados will host the final one, the first-ever day/night Test to be played in the Caribbean, from June 23-27.

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