Monday Rewind: The career of Keith Smith

Monday Rewind: The career of Keith Smith

By Luka Brooksby
18 May
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David Lawton looks back on the career of Illingworth's all-time leading run-scorer for the 1st XI

The records are available for examination and very soon Dorian and Luke Brooksby will be publishing a book of such records. In terms of Illingworth appearances and runs, standing head and shoulders above all others is Keith Smith with 21,668 runs in his 744 games. A record of 131 fifties and 22 centuries is the envy of every reputed batsman and those aspiring to be one. For a man who played in so many games it is not surprising that he also ‘scored’ 58 ducks. Not an insignificant proportion but Keith was well aware of his record - it certainly did not curtail his style of play.

I have played in many games with Keith and it is fair to say all of his innings of substance were laced with drives, cuts and pulls. At the beginning of his innings his shots were forceful and often brutal. The first ball of his innings was in danger of being hit for 6 with no attempt to ‘get his eye in’. In a match at Ilkley many years ago the home side had a plan to open with a spinner and a short-leg. When we saw the field deployed in accordance with the plan we all commented that the short-leg would end up in hospital – he did!

When runs were at a premium Keith’s fireworks decided the match and his positive tactic was employed in many tight games. On other occasions he appreciated a good wicket and booked in for ‘bed and breakfast’ but in his own style