By Charlie Peat
AS ONE journey ends, another begins and that certainly is the case for Greg Smith, who retired the day former housemate Tom Westley made his England debut.
The former Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire batsman racked up nearly 5,000 first-class runs and 2,000 more in white-ball cricket but has chosen to call it a day after struggling for games at Trent Bridge.
The timing of the announcement was particularly coincidental however, coming as it did, the day that university friend Westley got his England cap.
“I lived with Tom Westley for two years at university but it’s quite ironic that he got picked for England on the day I retired,” said Smith, with the two having attended the University of Durham.
“Having one of your best mates making their England debut is a pretty cool thing. I was so excited to watch him make his England bow, I hope he can show the world what he’s made of.”
While Westley’s career has gone from strength to strength, with Essex’s surprise Championship challenge propelling him into England contention, Smith has decided to hang up his batting gloves.
At 28, that might seem a little premature, even if he had featured in just four first-team games this season.
A key figure during his time at Grace Road, Smith left Leicestershire for Notts in 2015 but didn’t enjoy quite the same success at Trent Bridge.
That’s not to say he didn’t produce some fine knocks for his new county, most memorably a cracking hundred against Surrey in a narrow Royal London One-Day Cup semi-final defeat in 2015.
But while the move from Leicestershire didn’t pan out as he would have hoped, Smith insisted there were no regrets.
He added: “I just really enjoyed the journey. I did well at Leicestershire, well enough to catch Nottinghamshire’s attention and then took the gamble of trying to make it at a slightly bigger county and it didn’t work out how I wanted it to at Nottinghamshire.
“But in no way do I regret the ambition I had to test myself and try and make it at a bigger club.
“I loved being at a club that was challenging in all forms, it was tricky at times but then I made some pretty good memories.
“Credit to the club. I’ve got an enormous amount of respect for Nottinghamshire and the way I was handled.
“Arguably I played more than I should’ve done at Leicestershire and didn’t quite get the games at Nottinghamshire but I won’t look back with any regrets, I’m only looking forward and grateful for the time I had in the game and the opportunity I got.”
Smith hasn’t settled on exactly what his future holds just yet but after retiring mid-season – timing that some may have thought was odd – he is simply ready to move on from cricket.
“I just wanted to give myself the opportunity to give what I do next the best shot,” he added. “I thought now was the opportune time.
“I’m doing some investment management exams and looking to move into that area. I’ve done exams over the last couple of years as well.
“I’m pretty pleased with my lot and I will now be a fan from a distance.”