|Born||7 December 1976, Sydney New South Wales|
|Educated||Canobolas High School, Orange, New South Wales|
|Occupation||Brewery Publicity Officer / Garden Machinery Supplier|
|Debut||23 April 2006 v Hampshire at Castle Avenue|
|Style||Right hand bat; right arm fast medium bowler.|
|Teams||University of NSW, St George, Phoenix, Satwell, Terenure, Merrion.|
|History||David Langford-Smith - generally known in Irish cricket circles as Dave or Lanky - was a very good wicket taking opening bowler, with a sometimes devastating late outswinger, and a batsman who, at club level, often played dangerous innings in the middle order. Hitting the ball a long way, he also made several useful lower order contributions when batting one or two above the roller for Ireland. |
His school Canobolas High in Orange, well to the west of Sydney in the NSW Tablelands, has a fine sporting record, though, now rebranded as rural technical high, it lists athletes and swimmers as its stars making no mention of its former international cricketer. However Dave's cricket was developed enough for him to find a place in the tough competitive world of First Grade Cricket in Sydney where he played for the St George Club - famous for numbering among its past players such greats as Don Bradman and hostile leg spinner Bill O'Reilly - and the University of New South Wales, a newer entrant to First Grade cricket than St George, but including fast bowler Geoff Lawson and opening batsman Michael Slater among its former players. Dave held his own at this level for nine years, forming a firm friendship with St George team-mate Jeremy Bray among others, but emphatically not with Glen McGrath whom, when a teenager, he once had the temerity to hit for four "and such was the barrage abuse that followed the ball to the boundary that he claims he was trembling heading for lunch." However he survived to come to Ireland some years later in order to attend Jeremy Bray's wedding. At this stage his only knowledge of Ireland was that it allegedly contained leprechauns, of the shoemaking variety who keep crocks of gold at the end or rainbows, rather than the cricketing kind. Meeting other Phoenix players at the wedding, he was persuaded to return to Ireland once his domestic affairs were in order to play in the Park. This he did and his decision to remain in the country was sealed by meeting a young woman called Maebh who soon became his wife.
For Phoenix between 2002 and the end of the 2011 season Dave scored 2773 runs in Leinster senior competitive cricket with two centuries the highest 141 and an average of 26.40. In his primary role as a bowler he took 230 wickets at 19.01 with a best bowling of 6-26. His bowling brought him the O'Grady Cup on two occasions 2004 when he took 46 wickets at 11.51 - which was to remain a seasonal best - and 2011 when he had 35 at 14.80. The 141 came against Rush at Kenure in the first round of the 2005 Senior Cup. It was a remarkable innings which rescued Phoenix from an imminent collapse being brought about by the hosts three prong Pakistani pace attack and enabled them to post a formidable looking 306. Dave then removed opener Fintan McAlister for 0 but the three Pakistan stars dominated the bowling each reaching the half century mark, though Dave, who finished with 2-44 removed top scorer Shahid Iqbal for 88.
His other ton - 122 - came in 2009 in a league match against YMCA at their Claremont Road ground in August. Again Dave rescued his side from collapse but again it transpired to be in a losing cause. Batting first Phoenix were soon in trouble at 32-3 when he came to the wicket. When he was bowled by Reinhardt Strydom just before the end the score was 260. He had completely dominated the varied attack in making his runs. Unfortunately for Phoenix, Strydom was also in top form leading the run chase with a commanding 94. Though Dave did any new ball bowler's job by disposing of an opening batsman, Alan Lewis for 4 on this occasion and later took another wicket, he was unable to prevent a home win by 5 wickets.
His 6-26 came against CYM in a fine all round performance in 2009. CYM batted first and were dismissed for 162, Dave having the remarkable figures of 8.5-2-26-5. He only required the assistance of another team member for one of his wickets, clean bowling three, having one leg before and holding a return catch. Then when Phoenix were showing the suspicion of a wobble at 86-3, he came in and, showing more restraint than usual, was undefeated on 22 at the end as his team got home without further loss. His very last competitive match for Phoenix on 3 September 2011 saw another fine performance as he had 5-19 against YM including veteran Alex Dunlop, down the order now but still an excellent player, the match, however, was lost.
Dave also had some memorable performances in the Irish Senior Cup. Thus in 2005 he had a fine all round match in a second round tie at Strabane Park. He began by leading the attack in taking 4-35 in his 10 overs as the hosts struggled to reach 153, his clutch of wickets including the all important one of Peter Gillespie for 8. He was well supported by Thinus Fourie who had 3-7 including Michael Gillespie and Bobby Rao. However Phoenix also found the seam friendly conditions hard going and were 48-4 when Dave came to the wicket. He made an undefeated 52 to see his side to a three wicket win and, unsurprisingly, to take the Man of the Match award. However Phoenix fell to Limavady at the next hurdle. He was again to the fore against North West opposition in 2010 in a match with Glendermott in which, despite his efforts, Phoenix went down by 3 wickets. Batting first they struggled against Gary Neely who took 6-33 with only Dave playing him with confidence. Facing 138 balls, he hit eight 4s and six 6s in a barnstorming 129. He then took 2-31 to round off a front rank personal performance. Last season (2011) he destroyed Merrion in an all Dublin Quarter Final helping Phoenix to a match winning total of 269-8 by striking seven 4s and six 6s in a 36 ball 83. However his outstanding innings came in the Semi Final against Instonians. Coming in at 92-3, he batted for 67 minutes and faced 70 balls in reaching an undefeated 106 with eight 4s and nine 6s. Phoenix finished on 262-3, but the powerful "Old Boys" batting line up made light of the task.
In his 43 appearances for Ireland, he scored 321 runs at 17.83 and took 65 wickets at 27.14. However his first experience of Irish representative cricket was as a member of the opposition, playing for MCC in the two matches of 2005. He went wicketless in both matches, with 0-67 at Bangor as Peter Gillespie took the visitors attack apart and with 0-53 at Waringstown when Ireland batted consistently to reach 335-6 in their 50 overs. Despite this rather inauspicious start Dave was a first choice in 2006 and remained so until his premature retirement two years later.
His best bowling figures of 5-45 were achieved in the second innings. against Bermuda at Castle Avenue in the Intercontinental Cup in 2007 after taking 2-45 in the first innings. Ireland won the toss and piled up a massive 524 with William Porterfield and Andre Botha both reaching three figures. The visitors were then bowled out for 192 with Dave disposing of both openers. In the follow on they were dismissed for 196. Dave's wickets, taken in 15 overs, were all top order batsmen. He also held a smart catch at short leg off Andrew White's off spin, so contributed well to a well deserved victory. His other "5 for" had come in the same competition against Scotland the previous year, on a gloomy day at Aberdeen. Good batting by Ryan Watson enabled the hosts to escape from a poor start imposed by some good swing bowling from Dave who finished with 5-65 in 20 overs, most of his wickets being in the top order. However Scotland gained a useful first innings lead but were on 24-4 when the weather finally intervened. The match ended in acrimony with tempers flaring on both sides over inadequate wicket covering. Dave had, of course, several other good bowling returns in the competition in which, in all, he took 22 wickets at 20.31.
His usefulness as a bowler was not confined to first class matches. He had a somewhat difficult start in the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy in 2006 and was, indeed, briefly out of the side but came back strongly in the European Championship. held in Scotland, with three wicket hauls against Denmark, Scotland, Italy and the Netherlands, having much to do with Ireland winning the tournament, even though rain prevented a result being reached against the Dutch. His best return was 3-7 against Italy. A week after t Trent Johnston had lifted the trophy, Ireland beat MCC at Lord's by 97 runs with Dave taking 3-49, comfortably Ireland's best bowler.
Some may remember his World Cup in Jamaica for the ferret dance - or in off field moments for Little Britain impersonations - but he also had several useful bowling performances after taking 4-41 against South Africa in a warm up match. His best figures were 2-27 in the epic win over Bangladesh but with other dismissals including Kumar Sangakkara, Scott Styris and Hamish Marshall, he made a considerable impact on the tournament.
He also played a number of typically robust innings during his time in the Irish side, with a top score of 39 against Somerset in a Friends Provident match at Taunton in 2007 . Somerset reached a commanding 341-8 off their 50 overs with Dave taking 3-91, including Justin Langer and Marcus Trescothick, though the Australian opener had made a pugnacious 132. Ireland could only manage 213-9 in reply foundering against the accuracy of South African Kolpak Charl Willoughby, but Dave, at 9, hit about him in fine style to reach 39 off 31 balls in 28 minutes with two 4s and four 6s. He dominated an 8th wicket stand of 51 with Gary Wilson. However, despite this, and similar efforts, arguably his best ever innings for Ireland came in the World Cup tied match with Zimbabwe in March 2007. The details are probably etched on the mind of many readers but will bear a brief repetition. Ireland made 221-9 off their 50 overs, mainly thanks to a superb 115* from Jeremy Bray, the most important of his many fine innings for Ireland. He would never have got there, however, nor would Ireland have tied the match without a heroic innings from Lanky, who came in at 182-8 on Kyle McCallan's dismissal and stayed while 39 were added before being caught off the last ball of the innings. He contributed 15 off 17 balls, not only seeing his old friend past the hundred mark, but scoring most of the 20 off the last two overs which lifted the Irish total to challenging proportions. The rest is history.
Dave decided to call time on his international career after the Bangladesh tour of March 2008 in which he took 10 wickets in the three ODIs in distinctly unfriendly conditions for a pace bowler. He cited family and business reasons and few could blame him, much as his decision was regretted. His family was also one of his major reasons in deciding to return to Australia at the end of the 2011 season. When he visited his homeland on honeymoon in 2005, he confessed to having been "homesick for Ireland." Perhaps this homesickness played its part in his return to Ireland for three seasons from 2014, the first being spent with Terenure, the latter two with Merrion. However it would appear that the curtain has now finally come down on a career which gave spectators as much enjoyment as kit must have given to the player himself.
Back Down Under he had three fine seasons for Satwell in the Coffs Harbour District Competition. For example in January 2013 he performed the match double against South Park Beach Bowling Club Colts, a side which despite its name was a full participant in the league. Having taken 5-26, Lanky then, having languished at No 11 for most of his time with Satwell, took maximum advantage of his promotion to 9, and hit a blistering 101*, before finishing Colts off with 5-48. Back in Ireland he remained, as always. a challenging proposition for any batsman, but also showed his Satwell team-mates that he should always have been placed further up the order. Thus for Terenure in August 2014, he brought victory over North County at Inch in a Duckworth/Lewis/Stern decided match with a typically belligerent undefeated 99 from 68 balls, including 12 fours and 5 sixes. He also stormed to 100* from 50 balls against Pembroke in an Alan Murray T20 game, hitting 9 fours and 8 sixes, bringing his side an 8 wickets victory. For Merrion he again proved himself an essential member of the side, helping them to reach the final of the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup in 2015 and win it in 2016, the formidable Waringstown being the opposition on both occasions. The 2015 final had seen him hit a pugnacious 70 from 65 balls but his side suffered an overwhelming defeat. Other memorable feats with bat and ball were also achieved but he was, however, unable to prevent the Anglesea Road side from being relegated from the Leinster League Section 1 in 2016.
David Langford-Smith will be long remembered in Irish cricket for his testing pace bowling and belligerent batting, but also, of course for the ferret dance - still available on You Tube!"
Edward Liddle, October 2011, updated September 2016
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