“It feels like I’ve been here for a long time already,” says Tom Smith as he reflects on the first few months in the job as Yorkshire’s second-team coach.
It is safe to say the former England Lions all-rounder has settled into his new role at Headingley like a glove.
“That’s a credit to the staff at the club who’ve made me feel very welcome and the players themselves, who are open to new ideas,” continued Smith, whose side are currently in action at Weetwood against Leicestershire.
“I’m loving it. Coming to a county the size of Yorkshire, it’s an honour. It was a very in-demand role, and I’m very lucky to have been chosen.
“It’s such an impressive group of young players here, but it’s not just that. The talent pool we have beneath that is fantastic.
“The first three months have been about getting to know the players and what they need, and it’s been brilliant to be a part of it.”
The ongoing Leicestershire game is their seventh four-day Championship game of the season, with four wins and two draws already achieved leaving them top of the table and in with a great chance of title success.
Youngsters have progressed. Finlay Bean’s record-breaking recent 441 in the draw at Notts is a prime example.
Senior players have taken the chance to get back to fitness in readiness for first-team cricket. Gary Ballance and Ben Coad have played in recent weeks.
Players from outside have been given the chance to impress. Ed Moulton, a former Lancashire and Derbyshire seamer from Smith’s home club Chorley and Andy Umeed the former Warwickshire batter have been drafted in to play at stages.
“Having done the first-team side of things at Leicester, it’s been quite nice to come and work on the development side of things here with the second team,” continued Smith.
“Getting lads ready to play first-team cricket is a challenge I’ve really enjoyed, as is finding lads beneath that to replace them.
“Our performances have been good. Results are not the be all and end all.
“It’s as much performances, if not more so, because it’s about the lads getting ready so that they can go and do the job if they get the call from Ottis Gibson to go up to the first team.”
On the chances handed to 23-year-old Moulton (three first-class games) and Umeed, the 26-year-old Scot (15 first-class appearances), Smith continued: “It is all about opportunity.
“Ed had an opportunity and taste of it with Lancashire and Derbyshire. He’s out of the game at present, but given our situation with injuries to some of our bowlers a chance has come for him to come and play for us.
“Andy, we played against him for the South Asian Cricket Association at the start of the year and he got 80 and batted really well.”
Smith, aged 36, is still young in coaching terms, despite varying experiences with England women, at Leicestershire with their first team and now at Yorkshire.
He retired as a player at Lancashire in 2016 following a long-standing back injury, but is now rated as one of the country’s brightest young coaches.
“I’m still learning as a coach,” he said.
“I’m lucky that I’ve got Tim Boon, who has got 30 years of coaching experience, alongside me. I’m learning a huge amount from him.
“The big thing for me is to keep getting better, keep learning as a coach, because that will only help the players get better. That’s what we expect from the players, so we should be doing the same.”
While Smith is happy to look outside of the county for talent, he is looking hard within as well, as Bean’s situation indicates.
Here is a player who has been part of Yorkshire’s system in the past, went away and performed for York CC, has come back in and earned himself a rookie contract.
“There are something like 750 clubs in Yorkshire,” he added. “So there’s always going to be players.
“It’s just about making sure they have the opportunity to play.”