Tom Smith says the chance to be part of Yorkshire’s new-look coaching team, as the county’s head of the second team, was one he simply could not turn down.

Former England Under 19s all-rounder Smith has crossed the great Roses divide via four-and-a-half successful years as a coach at Leicestershire.

The ex-Lancashire captain, a Championship title winner in 2011, has brushed off some friendly banter from team-mates past with a smile and a chuckle and is relishing his new role at Headingley.

Smith and Yorkshire’s squad have used Bradford Park Avenue as their unseasonably sunny training base this week, and he said: “It’s a massive opportunity.

“It’s not often chances come along to work at such a massive, prestigious club.

“We’ve been here at Bradford Park Avenue, where Nasa, the groundsman, has been telling me there’s been 306 first-class games. That gives you an idea of the history within the county.

“The opportunity to come and work with some high quality young cricketers as well as some of the best players in the world at this moment in time is one I couldn’t pass up.

“The lads have been really welcoming so far. But everyone at the club has. They’ve gone to that extra effort to make me feel at home. I can’t thank them enough for that.

“We had 10 days in Dubai, which was a really important time for us to get to know each other, how we work together as players and as coaches as well.”

Since retiring from playing due to a back injury in 2017, aged just 31, Smith has amassed a varied coaching CV, including a spell with England’s women and most recently with Leicestershire as their second-team coach and then assistant to first-team head coach Paul Nixon.

“I’ve been lucky that some opportunities have come about at the right time in my career,” he said. “I was fortunate at Leicestershire that I got a lot of responsibility quite young as a coach, and I’m still learning.

“Speaking to Gibbo (Ottis Gibson) out in Dubai was amazing, as it was with Kabby (Kabir Ali) and Ali (Maiden) as well.

“Gibbo’s knowledge of bowling is second to none. It was great to just sit and listen.”

Smith actually had a decent record in Roses cricket, highlighted by scoring a Championship century at Headingley in 2010.

He still lives over the other side of the Pennines, from where a lot of ‘congratulatory’ messages have come.

“I’ve had a few messages from certain people, yes he laughs. “I won’t name names! But, in all seriousness, everyone has been very supportive, backing me to do a great job. It’s been really nice.”

Yorkshire open their Second XI Championship campaign against Northamptonshire at Park Avenue, starting on Monday April 11, with Smith setting out some pre-season aims.

“Winning teams move quickly, and we want to create those good habits,” he said.

“But second-team cricket is about creating opportunities, be it for senior lads not in the first team, Academy lads coming through or lads from outside the county who want to play and impress.

“If we lose games, but we’ve had two or three lads scoring hundreds and taking five-fors and they then jump up to do it in the first team, that’s almost a win in itself.

“It will obviously depend on what players we have available week to week. But winning games is still very important for our development.”

Prior to chatting about his new role, Smith was overseeing a net session at Park Avenue, effectively acting as standing umpire.

On a couple of occasions, he was craning his neck to watch sixes sail into the stands which surround the playing area from the blade of Jordan Thompson.

As a former all-rounder Smith is ideally placed to assess the 25-year-old’s ability.

“We’ve actually had a couple of conversations already about that all-rounder’s role, and his future is as bright as he wants to make it,” Smith added.

“You watch him bat, and he’s like a young Ben Stokes in many ways. The way he hits the ball is incredible. And when he bowls, he makes things happen.

“He’s someone who can accelerate the game with bat, ball and in the field. They are a rare breed.

“He’s a shining light within this squad, and hopefully he can continue moving forwards and affect plenty of games for us.”

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