Kelly is a class act as Clarke’s record in Lancashire is beaten
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.”
Record breaking: Former Australian captain Michael Clarke had his Lancashire League record smashed by Kelly Smuts, inset