At Cape Town in 2004, a 20-year-old Dwayne Smith sizzled in his very first Test, racing to a 93-ball century – the then fastest on Test debut – to save his side from a third straight defeat against South Africa.
A 10-Test career and a batting average of 24 is probably not what many people would have predicted after seeing Dwayne Smith on debut at Newlands against Graeme Smith’s mob.
Aged just 20 and hailing from Storey Gap in Barbados, with a reputation as a bit of a shot-a-ball merchant, expectation was high, as is always the case with a batsman hailing from the island that gave the world Sobers, Weekes, Worrell, Walcott, Greenidge and Haynes.
Captained by Brian Lara, things had not gone according to plan for the Windies. Two-nil down in a three-match series and beset by off-field problems, they entered the last day of the final Test chasing a hypothetical 441 to win. Obviously, if this encounter was to run to form, they would lose. And lose badly.
They were swiftly 47-2, and then, despite fifties from the skipper and Ramnaresh Sarwan, 227-4. With all the established batting back in the hutch, the rookie Smith – sandwiched between Wavell Hinds and Ridley Jacobs at number six – was effectively standing between his side and a mid-afternoon series whitewash.
Smith, as is his wont, went on the attack. A 52-ball fifty was converted into a hundred in just 93 deliveries as the West Indies saved the Test, closing on 354-5 with Smith 106 not out.
Some 15 fours and two sixes demonstrated that the best ticket in town was to be aboard the D-wayne Train, but just nine Tests later and with not so much as another fifty, Smith was on a siding. A spell in the international wilderness has seen him revitalise his career with Sussex. But who would have thought it, eh? It was merely a glimpse of another Bajun Boy Wonder thrashing and burning.
First published in 2010