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Hampshire to sign Will Smith
Hampshire are set to sign former Durham captain Will Smith.
The 31-year-old batsman will be unveiled as the county’s latest signing after being controversially released by Durham.
Hampshire wasted no time in signing England Lions all-rounder Matt Coles on a three-year contract and Smith has been lined up as the next addition as the county plan for a serious promotion push in the LV County Championship next year.
Smith will bring to Hampshire the experience of winning FOUR Championship titles – including one as captain.
If Jimmy Adams continues as Hampshire’s captain next year, which is yet to be confirmed, he will be grateful for the nous of his former British Universities teammate, a valuable sounding board at the very least.
Smith, who captained England’s Alastair Cook at Bedford School, has also played for Durham alongside Ruel Brathwaite and Neil McKenzie and is returning south after seven seasons at the Riverside, where he has finished as a Championship winner once again.
A graduate of Durham University, where he captained David Balcombe, Smith returned to the city of his alma mater after playing three games for Nottinghamshire as they won the 2005 title, ahead of second-placed Hampshire.
He ended his Durham career as a Championship winner for the third time in six years.
Smith established himself in 2008 with the most prolific season of his career (925 Championship runs at 51.25), including an impressive 70 in a low-scoring thriller against Hampshire at Basingstoke, before being appointed captain following the departure of Dale Benkenstein.
He led Durham to a successful defence of their first title, impressing with 150 when the champions arrived at the Rose Bowl for the penultimate match of his only season as captain.
Smith returned to the ranks when his form cost him his first-team place for the first time.
But he played more games during Durham’s Championship success under Paul Collingwood this season than any other, scoring 786 runs at 30.23 and passing 6,000 career first-class runs (at 31.27) in his final match, against Sussex at Hove last week.
An outstanding fielder, Smith is also the ultimate team man.
The right-hander is best known as an opening batsman but dropped to four when Benkenstein dislocated his shoulder in May and his off breaks have been used more by Durham this season than previously due to their lack of a specialist finger spinner.
This was also one of Smith’s best one-day seasons (248 YB40 runs at 62), making Durham’s decision to release him, for financial reasons, harder to comprehend.
Last week, he told Newcastle’s The Journal: “It’s not an ideal situation at all.
When things are out of your hands it’s very difficult to keep your focus, but I’m out of contract and that’s that.”
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