Premier Coach Profile - Nazeem Smith, Waitakere
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Nazeem Smith is a new name on the Auckland Premier scene this season but the coach of Waitakere City CC is certainly no stranger to the cricketing world.
Smith, who also coaches and teaches PE at Avondale College, was born and raised in South Africa and knew from an early age how he wanted his life to be: “Ever since the age of five or six I wanted to be a PE teacher.” Said Smith “I told my father even then that I wanted to have a job where I could where a tracksuit to work and things have worked out quite well.”
Smith was an all round athlete growing up. First he broke the national 100 metre sprint record in South Africa before going on to become a triple sport national representative in cricket, rugby and athletics whilst also playing table tennis and volleyball at provincial level. While he enjoyed playing and excelling at a wide range of sports Smith knew that cricket was the game he wanted to pursue: “Cricket was always closest to my heart. I went on to play at provincial level and then got into coaching.
“I coached the provincial women's team to national titles in 05/06/07 and also got involved with the Cape Cobras Franchise team and filled the positions of bowling, fielding and fitness coach as well as video analyst. During my five years there I worked with Graham Smith and nine other Proteas players and also worked with the Australian team as a fielding coach during the 2007 T20 World Cup in South Africa.”
In 2009 Smith and his family moved to Auckland where he continued to pursue his passion for the game: “I met with Kaushik Patel and asked about the best way to become involved. He told me about the school and club system which is very different from South Africa. Back there school cricket is only played midweek so kids can play club on a Saturday but I wanted to get involved with both so began working at Avondale College and with Suburbs New Lynn.
“Martin Guptill is Avondale's biggest success story and after a few years of hard work we are producing some more talented players like Sachin Variath who is currently doing very well opening the batting at Suburbs. In 2009 I worked with then Suburbs coach Barrington Rowland assisting with the fielding and then before this season Waitakere approached me about their vacant coaching position.”
Smith inherited a Waitakere side which lost several key players in the off season but a new coach with new ideas seems to be helping the club move in the right direction: “I believe we are the only club in New Zealand who trains Wednesday and Thursday evenings. I asked if we could try the idea and the players seem to enjoy it. I believe that playing Saturday then have three days away from the game, refresh then train hard for two days, then have a day's rest before Saturday is a good system and it seems to have worked.
“On the field we are going ok although I'd say we have been a little under par given the strength of our players. We have had some good moments, such as the victory over Takapuna, and we are putting some good processes in place for the future.”
Smith believes there is plenty of young talent to watch out for at Waitakere and believes that there are big things ahead for many of his players: “We have a good mix with experienced players such as Scott Curtis, Aaron Jeavons and Praneel Hira alongside the likes of the Dhadwal twins and young fast bowler Robert Evans-Moore. We also have a player who has gone unnoticed in the form of our wicket keeper Joseph Bell-Tyrer. He is only in Y12 but I have never worked with a more talented keeper, he is phenomenal. He stands up to the quick’s and is a good aggressive batsman in the Brendon McCullum mode.”
Smith has a basic philosophy in his coaching and asks players to delve deeper when watching or thinking about the game: “My philosophy is that cricket is a simple game and if you stick to the basics you will do well.
“I also tell the kids I coach, never watch the highlights of a match on tv. In the highlights all they show is Tendulkar hitting a cover drive to the boundary so players think that is what they have to do. But if you watch the whole game you see the leave, the block, everything that has led up to the shot and why the player was able to execute it well. I have asked them all if they have ever watched all five days of a test match and none of them have given me the correct answer yet.”