CRICKET: Templepatrick’s Smith set for Carrick switch

Robert Smith has agreed in principle to sign for Carrickfergus CC. Photo: Presseye

Robert Smith has agreed in principle to sign for Carrickfergus CC. Photo: Presseye

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Templepatrick’s former First XI captain Robert Smith has quit the club and agreed in principle to sign for Carrickfergus for the 2016 season.

The 25-year-old all-rounder said the lure of the playing in the NCU Premier League was too good to turn down.

Smith skippered The Cloughan outfit last year, but it was a campaign which culminated in relegation to Section Two following 12 defeats from 18 outings.

“I had opportunities to play in the Premier League when I was younger and I never took them,” Smith said. “With the disappointing season we had last year, I thought it was time to try something new. The Premier League is the reason why I left, really.

“I’ve been at Templepatrick since I was seven, so that’s 18 years. I’m going to miss the people at the club, to be honest. It’s a very well run club and it’ll take a bit of getting used to for me.”

The left-arm spinner, who was named Batsman of the Year at the club’s awards night last month, admitted he’s indebted to the coaching team at Templepatrick for helping hone his cricket skills.

“Andy [McCrea], especially ... he taught me everything I know about cricket, and then there’s Artie [Campbell] and all the coaches there. They’ve put me through my Level Two qualifications as well, so I owe them a lot,” he added.

Smith said he hopes to have his move rubber-stamped soon and is now looking forward to life at Middle Road.

“It’s tough league and from what I can gather the club has already made a few decent acquisitions,” he said. “They should be there or thereabouts in mid-table but it’s a different proposition when it comes to challenging for the league. I’d be very disappointed if we were down near the bottom come the end of the year.”

Carrick skipper Iain Parkhill said: “Robert knew he had to give the Premier League a go. He’s a quality spinner and he’s useful with the bat. We’ll be glad to have him on board.”

Last week Carrick secured the signature of prolific New Zealander Jamie Holmes who struck 683 runs at an impressive average of 48.79 as they consolidated in the top flight.

Holmes’ capture followed hot on the heels on the arrival of South African Pat Botha as their new overseas professional.