Kelly is a class act as Clarke’s record in Lan­cashire is beaten

The Cricket Paper - - ECB PREMIER LEAGUES - By Matt Wright

AFTER win­ning the toss and put­ting their op­po­nents in to bat, En­field were made to re­gret their de­ci­sion in dra­matic style after an ex­tra­or­di­nary on­slaught by Tod­mor­den pro­fes­sional Kelly Smuts.

On what was an oth­er­wise low-scor­ing week­end in the Lan­cashire League, Smuts smashed an in­cred­i­ble 211 off just 139 balls, in­clud­ing 23 fours and 11 sixes, as Tod­mor­den posted 324-7.

In do­ing so, the 27-year-old South African sur­passed the league record pre­vi­ously held by for­mer Aus­tralia captain Michael Clarke, who struck an un­beaten 200 for Ramsbottom in 2002.

En­field were on the re­ceiv­ing end that day too, al­though spare a thought for the poor fielder who dropped Smuts at mid­off while he was in the 20s.

As if En­field weren't sick enough of the sight of him, Smuts starred with the ball as well at Cen­tre Vale, tak­ing 4-16 as the

vis­i­tors were bowled out for just 142 to fall a whop­ping 182 runs short.

It was an as­ton­ish­ing way for him to be­gin his tenure with Tod­mor­den and his captain An­drew Sut­cliffe made him aware of what he had just achieved.

Sut­cliffe said: “We knew about the record be­cause three years ago we had a pro­fes­sional called Michael Neser, who plays for the Ade­laide Strik­ers and Queens­land Bulls in Aus­tralia.

“Away at Rawten­stall, he got 190-odd and at the time we didn’t know but we looked after that and we knew then that Michael Clarke was the man who had the record.

“Then Kelly got into the 190s at the week­end with a cou­ple of overs to spare, we sent a lit­tle mes­sage out to him to let him know that he was on the cusp of great­ness.

“Ob­vi­ously it kicked him on and he had a big last cou­ple of overs - I think he was set­tling for the not out un­til we told him about the record.”

It wasn’t the first time in his ca­reer that Smuts, the younger brother of South Africa t20 in­ter­na­tional JJ, has pro­duced a stun­ning all-round per­for­mance – he’s done so at first-class level.

Play­ing for East­ern Province in Fe­bru­ary last year, he took a ca­reer-best 7-36 in Boland’s first in­nings be­fore scor­ing 108 and tak­ing six sec­ond-in­nings wick­ets, in­clud­ing four off con­sec­u­tive balls.

In do­ing so he be­came the first player in South African first-class cricket to make a cen­tury and take 13 wick­ets in the same match.

“We’ve come up against him a few times be­fore and he’s also been our sub­sti­tute pro­fes­sional in the past on one oc­ca­sion,” Sut­cliffe said.

“He’s a proven per­former at this level and he’s a good pro­fes­sional - he’s ideal re­ally be­cause he per­forms with bat and ball and he’s very con­sis­tent.

“We had looked at him a cou­ple of times in the last two years, but with the bal­ance of our side, we des­per­ately needed some­one who could bat a long in­nings and con­trib­ute with the ball with the seam.

“He fits the bal­ance of our side per­fectly, so now was the time to strike.”

PIC­TURE:Getty Im­ages

Record break­ing: For­mer Aus­tralian captain Michael Clarke had his Lan­cashire League record smashed by Kelly Smuts, in­set

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