GH Smit

 2011 smit mug

GH in Malaysia 2011                                   ICC

GH as he is known first played for Guernsey in the 2005 Inter-Insular. The hard hitting batsman has been ever present since to chalk up 8 appearances with a total of 141 runs with a high score of 40 and bowling figures of 11-0-48-4 together with  3 catches. He played in the ICC European tournament in 2008 and then the World Cricket League in 2009 since when he has scored 439 runs at 25.8 with a highest score of 75 in his 18 appearances. His bowling has also been utilised with useful figures of 79-5-315-18 and an economy rate of 4.0  In two T20 events he has scored 183 runs in 9 innings with a high score of 51* against Sweden in 2013. In his 12 appearances he has also taken 3 catches.
Domestically he is a player who can take a game away from the opposition very quickly if he is not dismissed early. He has scored several centuries in the 20 over format of the game as well as tweaking his off-spinners to good effect.

An article by Rob Batiste in the Guernsey Press in July 2013 at the European Div 1 T20 tournament gave an insight into the background to GH:

CHRIS VAN VLIET woke up startled on Tuesday night. His roommate here and fellow South African at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, the base for all teams at the 2013 Pepsi ICC European T20 Championships, had gone sleepwalking. The following morning at breakfast it was a source of great amusement that GH Smit, the daddy of the Guernsey side in Sussex this week, had given his colleague a bit of a shock. Another shock, you could say, is that as Guernsey head into today’s double-header in Group A, Smit has yet to bat or bowl in the national side’s opening two victories.

The 37-year-old builder from the northern province close to the Zimbabwean border has played against both Norway and Austria but has yet to be called upon to smash the ball out of these small parks – as everyone in Guernsey cricket knows he is very adept at – or roll his arm over for a few overs of effective off-spin. His time will surely come, though, and he will have a major role to play in the remaining four matches this exciting new-look Guernsey side face including, perhaps, the grand final in lights at Hove on Saturday night. GH is an impressive character.  Not only is he still a fine player and the side’s biggest hitter, he could probably ride a motorbike better than any of his team- mates and also show them how to ride horses. He can even break one in for you if you like.

It has been a while since he has done the latter. That was back in his formative years on the family farm in a tiny village close to the border. It was here he grew up with his three brothers and sister, all very fine sports-people in their own right. While dad Smit grew avocados, mangos and Macadamia nuts, the boys enjoyed the benefits of wonderful outdoor life on a farm of 2,800 acres and 16 kilometres in circumference. ‘We grew up with motor- bikes and horses: GH said. ‘We had a massive house and our garden was big enough that we made our own four-hole golf course and we had plenty of room for cricket. ‘It was probably the size of two rugby pitches.’ The fact that his Christian name is simply two initials continues to cause disbelief in some. It stems from his grandfather who was also a GH. Our GH tells a lovely little story as to how granddad once was applying for an insurance policy. The prospective insurers could not get the idea of Mr Smit being called just GH. ‘He eventually got a bit annoyed and wrote on the form “G Only H Only” and he was officially registered as Gonlyhonly Smit.’

GH was born in 1976, the eldest of the children who also include Thomas, or T J to Guernsey rugby fans who will not easily forget the day T J Smit kicked Guernsey to a shock Siam Cup win in 2005. Their sister Michelle is a provincial hockey player and 10 years younger than GH are identical twin brothers, Wouter and Warno. They are good at sport too, and in their schooldays one was particularly adept at high jumping, the other not so. To paraphrase GH’s story: ‘One won the school competition but the other was not so good and not doing so well. So they decided that the good one should pretend to be the other and he cleared the bar so that they finished first and second.’ GH’s own schooling comprised being one of 43 boys out of 111 primary age children at a little private school close to home.

‘It was about three kilometres from our house. But when you went to secondary school between 14 and 18 that meant we had to go away to a boarding school about 200 kilometres away.’ The elder Smit boys were good at cricket and rugby from an early age and GH loved his athletics too, being a decent 1200m runner. His problematic knees would not allow a return to distance running now, though.

‘We had a really good teacher who played cricket for Rhodesia and we had a competitive group at our age. I always had to compete against the older boys a few years older than me. At 18 GH left school and went to study industrial engineering in Pretoria where sport was a big part of his life, possibly too much. ‘I studied for six years. My mum said I forced a three-year course into six. But he got the qualifications eventually and before long was heading to London to work. It was from the capital that GH and, briefly his brother T J, were introduced to Guernsey. ‘One of our mates got a contract with a contractor who had a link with RG Falla and we came over to work on the Flagship building.

‘The first month we didn’t enjoy it much as we were booked in at the [now gone] L’ Ancresse Hotel.’ But, before very long, they were involving themselves on the local sports scene and while TJ, an excellent fly half, did not stay around for long, GH fell in love with the island and is still here nine years on. Both Smits initially played rugby for St Jacques and GH also made his way into the GRUFC first XV ‘I was supposed to play in the Siam but I went home (for a holiday) and my brother played in my position.’ That summer he was introduced to cricket by fellow South African and site worker Divan van den Heever and, as they say, the rest is history.

Almost a decade on GH is a mainstay of the island side and helping nurse the bunch of new talent coming through. He has not lost any of his appetite for the sport, even though his knees are playing up, his building business is developing and he has a young family with a second child imminent. ‘I’d like to play as long as I can but there is family and work to think of. ‘Fitness-wise I think I can handle another couple of years yet.’ He is excited about the developments in local cricket and the stream of good youngsters coming through. And, he thinks, they can win this week. ‘I think we have a good chance if we can stop Italy scoring a lot of runs. ‘They have got one good opening bowler who is accurate, but he’s not that quick. Not that GH is fazed by the short stuff anyway. His tough upbringing makes him the tough guy, physically and mentally, in Nic Pothas’s team.

 

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