Jason Smith says being drafted for the Mzansi Super League has boosted his confidence, and he thanks Cobras coach Ashwell Prince for backing him, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
The 24-year-old was one of the players who was picked up in the 2017 Global T20 League draft and was set to play for the Cape Town Knight Riders. However, he was also one of the players affected by the cancellation of the original tournament scheduled for November 2017.
With fewer teams in the competition this time around, Smith never expected to be named in a squad.
‘I feel proud and honoured,’ Smith told SACricketmag.com about being picked up by the Cape Town Blitz.
‘I never thought I was going to get picked up. I never had any expectations really, as there are fewer teams than last year.
‘But I’m glad that Ashwell chose me. It means a lot to me that he’s backing me so I have taken that with some confidence and as motivation for the rest of the season.
‘I was playing golf (when I heard I was drafted). I thought “why worry about (listening to the draft) if I’m not going to be picked up”. So I rather took my mind off things with a round of golf.’
For Smith, it hasn’t been a flawless transition from amateur to pro. High expectations came after his selection for the 2014 World Cup-winning SA U19 side, but he has since had to watch former teammates Aiden Markram and Kagiso Rabada excel in the Proteas set-up.
He managed to become a regular in the Cobras’ plans but has yet to have the season that truly reflects his talent and ability.
His primary focus, however, remains on his duties for his franchise.
‘My prep has gone well [in the off-season],’ he added. ‘I’ve been training nicely and have been working on a few technical things with Ashwell that has been coming along very nicely. So I feel like I’m getting to a strong position, which I wasn’t doing previously
‘I think mentally I’m in a much better space than I was in previous seasons. Ashwell has kept me mentally tough. I don’t want to mention my fault here, but he has given me ways to strengthen that. He has given me that confidence to better my game.
When asked about selection for South Africa A and the SA Emerging team, he admitted that ‘I haven’t given it much thought, to be honest. That’s not my worries at the moment, I’m just trying to focus on what I have to do here and what benefits the Cobras.’
Smith ended by revealing his targets for the 4-Day Franchise Series: 25 first-class wickets and between 600-700 runs.