Tom Smith: Lancashire all-rounder on his return from serious injury

By Harry PooleBBC Kick Off Reporter
Tom Smith
Tom Smith has scored 3,972 runs and taken 241 wickets in 107 first-class matches

In February 2015, Tom Smith was named captain of Lancashire - but he led his team out in just one game.

A back problem that required surgery ruled the all-rounder out for the 2015 season after his one match, and he had to hand over leadership duties to Steven Croft.

"Mentally, last year was pretty tough knowing I was going to be out for the season after just becoming captain, and all the things that came with it," the 30-year-old told BBC Sport.

"It was a season I was looking forward to massively, as I do every season, but this one had a bit extra to it."

Tom Smith
Tom Smith was named captain of Lancashire in 2015, but he soon had to relinquish the role because of his injury

The captaincy came off the back of an impressive 2014, a season in which Smith took more than 50 wickets and was named Lancashire's player of the year.

He spent 13 months out of action in total, handing over the captaincy full-time to Croft - a difficult decision he felt was right for both himself and the club.

"I knew from a personal point of view that I had to make a selfish decision because in order for me to get right I had to focus 100% on myself," he continued. "It was just the right thing to do.

"It was good to watch the lads play but ultimately I wanted to be out there. My wife got pregnant, which certainly gave extra motivation, but I couldn't have done it without a lot of people.

"It's been amazing to be back playing. You certainly put things into perspective and your love of the game and what you play for certainly stands true after you spend a lot of time out."

A 'surreal' journey

Smith started out at local team Withnell Fold where his father played, moving to Chorley Cricket Club before being noticed for trials at Lancashire.

After progressing from Lancashire's under-13 team through to their under-19 side, Smith was offered his first professional contract.

"I played most sports growing up - football, golf, tennis, everything you can think of, but cricket was the one I always wanted to do," he said.

"My parents were inspirational and very influential in my upbringing - they drove me everywhere, up and down the country.

"I always admired Ian Thorpe, Brian Lara, Andrew Flintoff. I remember walking into the changing room one day and Andrew Flintoff was stood in front of me, it was a pretty surreal experience.

"For me, winning the Championship in 2011 has been a real highlight and receiving my county cap is certainly a proud moment I'll never forget."

Tom Smith's career stats
Form of cricketMatchesRunsWickets
List A731,63584

Smith has scored 7,720 career runs and taken 376 wickets across all three forms of the game, and as an all-rounder has had to master both batting and bowling aspects of the sport.

"I think the demands are seen away from the pitch," Smith added. "You have to work hard on keeping both disciplines at top performance to ensure both assets are up to scratch so you can deliver.

"On the pitch it's just a role you're used to because that's your job at the end of the day and it's what you love doing."

Asked what aspect of the game he preferred, Smith replied: "I think I'd rather score a hundred."

Twenty20 gold?

One sport that was not present at the recent Rio 2016 Olympics was cricket, so does Smith envisage a future place for his sport there?

"It's a tough one. It'd have to be Twenty20 cricket for time purposes, I don't think you could have a Test match going on," he said.

"It'd be nice to see it in the Olympics, you've got golf in there now which is a bit more mainstream so one day maybe T20 cricket can be in there.

"It'd be nice getting a gold medal wouldn't it?"