Former wicketkeeper Ian Smith honoured for service to game in NZC Awards held online

Former New Zealand wicket keeper-turned-commentator Ian Smith was on Tuesday honoured with the Bert Sutcliffe Medal for outstanding service to cricket in the NZC Awards presented online for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Zealand women’s cricket team captain Sophie Devine and Devon Conway won the Dream11 Super Smash Player of the Year titles (women and men respectively) on the opening day of the Awards.
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NZC will present the remainder of its awards over the next three days, culminating in the Sir Richard Hadlee Medal for the player of the year on Friday.

The First Class and domestic batting and bowling trophies and the overall Domestic Player of the Year awards will be presented on Wednesday.

The 63-year-old Smith, who played 63 Tests and 98 ODIs between 1980 and 1992, was presented (virtually) the award by NZC Chairman Greg Barclay.

“… it’s perhaps behind the microphone that he has made his greatest impact calling in many of New Zealand’s greatest cricket moments of the past two decades and commentating on a whopping 112 Tests at home,” the NZC said.

The award presented to Smith is named after former Test player Sutcliffe, who played 42 Tests for the country.

Smith, who led Sky Television’s cricket coverage for two decades, joins a distinguished list of former internationals to win the award including Walter Hadlee, Merv Wallace, John R Reid, Graham Dowling, Sir Richard Hadlee and Ewen Chatfield.

“I’m so grateful. It makes me quite emotional actually to think about joining the list of people who have already won this award,” Smith said via video call.

“The playing aspect was the realisation of a dream. I fondly remember the times keeping to Sir Richard Hadlee, watching Martin Crowe bat sides into submission and all the other guys playing their part as well.”

On the momentous moments as a commentator, he said, “I’ve loved every minute of calling Test cricket. Brendon (McCullum’s) 300 will live forever in my mind; Test wins at Lord’s, Hobart, Ross Tayor’s 290, the draw at Eden Park with so much drama against England, and of course the World Cup Final at Lord’s last year.”

Smith dedicated this award to his wife Louise. He also thanked his teammates during his playing career, the people he had worked with over the past two decades at SKY television as well as NZC.

“It’s been a great journey and I wouldn’t trade it for a second.”

Devine spearheaded the Wellington Blaze’s run to their third straight T20 title with 365 runs and 12 wickets, topping the six-hitting table (25) and strike-rate charts (184.5) in both the men’s and women’s competitions.

Devine said the current lockdown restrictions were limiting but that all the players were doing their best to prepare and train as well they could.

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“…as players it’s about keeping ourselves physically and mentally ready to go for whenever the moment may come when we can play again,” she said.

Wellington Firebirds batsman Conway cracked 543 runs in their men’s T20 title charge at an average of 68 and strike rate of 145.

He was a whopping 140 runs clear of Black Caps and Aces opener Martin Guptill atop the men’s Super Smash run-scoring charts.