Sport

Scorching form noticed

SURPRISE CALL-UP: Ben Smith is making his debut for the Scorchers.
SURPRISE CALL-UP: Ben Smith is making his debut for the Scorchers. Brett Wortman

BEN Smith admits he never even entertained thoughts of playing first grade.

So the right-arm medium-pacer was understandably shocked when he got the nod to replace Paul Cash for the Sunshine Coast's round 10 clash against XXXX first grade front-runner Toombul at Buderim this weekend.

"I certainly didn't expect it," he said. "I've been working hard the last two seasons just hoping to get a run in second grade.

"There was a couple of bowlers out in seconds earlier in the season so I was lucky enough to get a go there.

"I've since been bowling really well so am stoked to get a run with first grade. I never thought I'd be playing for first grade for the Scorchers so I'm rapt."

But Smith's recent form is certainly enough to warrant his inclusion.

The 24-year-old hit a purple patch for Gympie at the end of last season, bagging 15 wickets in three games.

As a result, he was thrust into seconds for this season. And he's made every post a winner.

Smith is the leading wicket taker in second grade, claiming 28 wickets at an average of 15.79 in all formats of the game.

But it's his figures of 24 wickets at 12.79 in two-day matches which are particularly appealing.

Now it's hoped he can carry that sort of form into first grade, alongside a couple of other young bowlers who have recently been promoted, Sam Gardiner and James Bazley.

"I think if we just keep bowling the same as we have been in

second grade it shouldn't be too different," he said.

"Obviously bad balls are going to be punished a lot more but as long as we keep doing the basics well it should all come together.

"Toombul are the top team, so I really don't know what I'm up against to be honest

ebecause I've never played first grade before."

Smith believes the Scorchers' relatively inexperienced bowling line-up must try to frustrate a strong Toombul line-up which includes Chris Sabburg, who is averaging more than 60 this season.

"Teams make a lot of runs in Brisbane but come here where it's a slower deck and a slower field and the average score is only around 180 or 200.

"Our aim is to make 200-250 and that will be a very defendable total.

"Our bowlers need to be more patient than their batsmen so the plan is to bowl in areas to tie them down and that will bring about the bad shots."

Bazley is in the side for Ashley Renouf (knee) while opener Julian Nielsen returns to the sixth-placed side at the expense of Dylan Pinkstone.

Seamer Ashley Gray is in for key batsman James Henry, who is in Sydney for the weekend.

Paceman Matt Gale, who was man of the match for the Queensland Bulls on Wednesday, will be promoted up the order.

SCORCHERS: J Nielsen, S Northeast, L Waugh, S Ledger, M Gale, A Day, A Gray, J Bazley, G Flegler (c), S Gardiner, B Smith


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