Provincial’s longest-serving overseas player is looking to channel his second year syndrome.
St Patrick’s Neil Smith is banking on another 350-plus run season as the club looks to bounce back from missing finals for the first time in years.
“I struggled in my first year, I was pretty good my second and then the third year was a bit average,” he said.
The 25-year-old played for Scotland under 17s and 19s, as well as two games for Scotland A.
But he hasn’t been able to break into the national team.
“I probably haven’t scored quite enough runs,” he said.
“Back home I look to score 500-600 runs a season.”
The left-hander plays for the Ayr Cricket Club in Scotland, as well as the Western Warriors, a professional team based in the country’s west.
It plays against other nationalities, including pro sides from Holland.
The Patties snapped a three-match losing streak when they edged out Wodonga Raiders in a final-over thriller.
Smith top-scored with 46, pushing past three figures.
St Pat’s also passed 150 for the first time in the five rounds, racking up 7-211 against a gritty Wodonga Raiders.
“Our batsmen are just starting (to find form), a couple of us in the top four or five are just starting to get some runs,” he said.
Nick Brown chipped in with his second score of 41, while captain Matt Crawshaw posted 26.
The Patties will need to maintain that improvement when they travel to New City’s home on Saturday.
And it’s another import – Saif Zaib – who’s threatening to rip a game apart after cracking a superb 77 from only 56 balls against North Albury.
“They’re a strong side but there’s a couple of their players we need to contain,” Smith said.
“We need to get (Darren) Petersen and Zaib with the bat.”
St Pat’s met New City in round two.
“We played in one of the T20s at the start of the year and they beat us pretty comfortably, so we’re obviously looking to improve on that performance,” Smith said.
The Phoenix posted 5-165, with Petersen blasting 61, while Englishman Zaib scored an unbeaten 39, with three boundaries.
New City won its first four games, but the consistent loss of wickets through the middle and late order cost it in last week’s loss against North.
The Phoenix was 2-113 at one stage, with Petersen and Zaib firing, and looked capable of pushing 275 against one of the association’s most consistent sides.
New City is looking at breaking a finals drought, so given its outstanding start, the players will be desperate not to let another strong start slip as it will quickly erode any momentum.