Josh Smith made his debut for Stoke/Nayland this season. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Josh brewing up a batting masterclass in Stoke

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As a young fast bowler Josh Smith showed plenty of promise, clocking in speeds around 140kmh.

The 29-year-old’s career was curtailed though when a bout of arthritis in his shoulder saw him undergo multiple surgeries.

This, of course, had an undesired effect on the Australian-born cricketer’s ability to bowl pace.

“I’d be lucky to reach 110kmh now,” he says.

However, Josh has managed to reinvent himself as a top order batsman and wicketkeeper as he returned to the field this season for the first time in two years.

“I have had to re-evaluate my cricket over the last few years because of injuries, and batting is now my forte.”

He says he is relishing being back in action.

“Since my dad first put a bat in my hand at five, cricket has been my life, so to be away from the game for two and a half years gives you perspective and coming back to it is just great.”

Josh says he has been lucky enough to travel the world playing the game he loves.

From Australia to Holland, England to New Zealand, Josh’s latest stop has seen him link up with the champion Stoke/ Nayland side.

Josh says he always wanted to live in New Zealand and, when an opportunity came up to work as a brewer at McCashins, he made the move.

It wasn’t long before word of his cricketing talents got out.

“A bloke at work caught wind I played a bit of cricket so passed my name onto Hodo (Brendan Hodgson), a few beers later and, sure enough, I turned up to training the next week. It was a match made in heaven.”

Growing up as an opening inswing bowler representing Australia in indoor cricket, Josh suffered his first shoulder dislocation at 19.

“After that I got back and was bowling some good speeds, but just general wear and tear became multiple dislocations and more surgery.”

Though his focus has shifted to the bat, he hasn’t ruled out a return to the bowling crease.

“Once a fast bowler you always want to be able to go out there and bowl fast. I am slowly making my way back.”

Stoke/Nayland has made a dominant start to its 110-over campaign, winning both games comfortably while its other two fixtures were washed out.

“When you’re winning cricket it’s always good fun and the boys have been great.”

Josh scored 34 and 14 in his first two innings as Stoke chased modest totals.

“I’m getting some time in the middle and feeling confident in my game again and I know a good score is around the corner.”

Having won a top tier championship in England, Josh says his goal is to repay the opportunity given to him with another title.

“Stoke/Nayland has a great history of success and I want to be part of that, they have put a lot of time and effort into me and I want to reward them.”