Joining the Notts playing staff in 1963 were no less than three cricketers who were struggling for a place in the Yorkshire side: Bolus, aged 28, Gillhouley, aged 28 and the 21-year-old Mike Smedley. The first two had had some experience of Yorkshire Championship cricket; Smedley had another more major problem. His exact contemporary, who had come up through the various youth sides, was a certain Geoff Boycott. In effect Yorkshire had already decided to jettison Bolus in favour of young Boycott. Smedley’s prospects in his native county looked very dim.
He played successfully for Notts Second XI in his initial summer and made his first-class debut for Notts in 1964. An attractive orthodox batsman, he began with the county going in first wicket down. During 1965 he continued to progress and early in 1966 caught the eye of 'those at Lord’s’ being picked for the MCC v Yorkshire. Later in the same year he appeared for Gilligan’s XI v West Indies. The end of season report commented: “A new young batting personality in Smedley made further progress and his style and manner of making runs was most pleasing.”
Added to this he was considered one of the best cover fielders in county cricket. He continued to improve and in 1971 hit 1,718 runs including six centuries. Against Lancashire at Old Trafford he made a century in each innings. With the retirement of Jackie Bond as Notts’ manager-captain after the 1974 summer, Smedley was chosen as skipper for 1975. He had in fact led Notts in a number of matches since 1973.
During the 1975 season Smedley’s greatest success came in the John Player League. A decisive victory over Worcestershire in July put Notts in contention for the title, but variable results thereafter meant the side ended in fifth place – disappointing but a vast improvement on 1974 when they gained the wooden spoon.
At the close of the 1977 season, Smedley agreed to stand down as captain; Rice was appointed for 1978. Then came the brouhaha over Kerry Packer and Rice signing for the Australian’s cricket circus. Rice was sacked by Notts, threatened to sue, was reinstated as a player, but the captaincy returned to Smedley. In July 1979, the Notts Manager decided to remove Smedley as captain and install Rice. Smedley resigned. There was a public outcry, but it was the end of Smedley’s county career.
Michael John Smedley was born in Maltby on 28 October 1941. He was a promising cricketer from a young age and in 1961 was chosen for England Schools, having already been selected for Yorkshire Seconds. After leaving Notts, Smedley rejoined his old Bassetlaw League side, Kiveton Park. He continued to appear in club cricket until well into his 50s. In 2000 Smedley was elected President of the Bassetlaw League. At the 2010 AGM he was elected President of the County CLub.
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