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Off-spinner to continue personal development as he commits future to Bristol
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Gloucestershire’s 2020 Supporters’ Player of the Season Tom Smith has committed his future to the club, having signed a three-year contract extension which will see him at Bristol until at least the end of the 2023 season including one year as a player-coach.
Smith, who enjoyed a fantastic year in the Vitality Blast, will continue his personal development as he works towards his ECB Level 4 coaching badge over the next two years, with an official coaching role at the club commencing in the third year of his contract.
Speaking on his contract extension Smith said: “It’s a really nice end to what has been quite a positive cricket season. I didn’t expect to be in this position a few months ago during lockdown and when it was looking like there wasn’t going to be a cricket season at all.
“To be sat here with a three-year deal including one year as a player-coach, having had quite a good season personally, it’s a really good feeling.”
Smith was a key player in the 2020 Blast, finishing with 14 wickets and a career best performance of 5/16 against Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston. He also hit the winning runs against Somerset in a nail-biting South West derby.
The off-spinner had the best economy rate (5.92) of all players who featured more than once in this year’s Blast, an impressive statistic showcasing his ability to affect the game in more ways than one.
Smith has experience of coaching at youth level but will be hoping to continue his development into the professional game over the next three years.
“I’ve always done a lot of different things in the winter to progress my personal development. It’s something that I’ve been planning for in previous winters with Gloucestershire. I’ve been doing a lot of academy work and Emerging Players Programme (EPP) spin bowling coaching in the winters.
“I’m trying to broaden my horizons as much as possible, learn new things and keep my options wide open. Being a single parent, I need to prepare for the end of my playing career and have as many options open as possible for when it eventually does finish.
“To have something to transition into, potentially starting with my ECB Level 4 coaching badge next year, is a really exciting project.”
The positive news comes after what has been a difficult few years for Smith and his daughters Rosie and Clara. The family has leant on the Professional Cricketers’ Trust for support after the passing of Smith’s wife Laura in August 2018 following an 18-month battle with illness.
“It’s a really positive year. From the darkness of lockdown, worrying about the lack of a cricket season, to have had a good year personally and for the club to get to Blast Finals Day, I’m feeling really happy.
“It’s been a long few years with a lot of heartache but this year felt really positive and to finish it with a new deal really is a lovely feeling.
“There are so many positive things on many different levels, not only with the cricket but also with us as a family, and now having the security to know we’re in Bristol for the next few years.”
Gloucestershire Head Coach Richard Dawson believes Tom earned his contract extension: “Tom has been a consistent performer in white-ball cricket over a number of years now and he had an exceptional T20 tournament this year. We played well as a team and he was a huge part of the squad, so he fully deserved a contract extension.
“The next few years will be transitional for Tom but he has shown a keen interest in developing his coaching. He is still performing at a high level on the field so we hope first and foremost that this continues but we will support him on his coaching journey in any way we can.
“Tom is an impressive person. He not only brings a wealth of cricket experience and knowledge, but he’s been through some tough times and how he carries himself will be inspirational for the young cricketers coming through.”