Time is of the essence for Smith

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The Independent Online

Robin Smith admitted yesterday that he could ill afford to waste his second opportunity to re-establish himself in the England team. As Mike Atherton's side assembled at Lord's in readiness for tomorrow's second Test against the West Indies, Smith said that "time seems to be running out" following his dismissals for 16 and 6 in the first Test.

"I've done a lot of talking recently," Smith said. "The plain fact is that I've got to go out and do it in the middle now. I don't want to say much at all at the moment. But if I get a hundred I'll be delighted to chat to anyone."

Having opened the batting in the first Test, Smith moves down the order at Lord's. "It wasn't my choice to open at Headingley, but if you are asked to do something for your country you do it," he said.

Ray Illingworth, the chairman of selectors, said at the weekend that it was time for Smith to "stand up and be counted" and Smith admitted: "Time seems to be running out. If it's going to be my last Test I'm determined to enjoy it."

Atherton and Peter Martin, suffering from back and thigh injuries respectively, both took part in the nets yesterday and are expected to be fit.

Illingworth, meanwhile, said he had not yet given up hope of playing five bowlers at Lord's, although how he would achieve this is not clear. On Sunday he had stated categorically that Steve Rhodes would be behind the stumps.

"I did say that," Illingworth said yesterday. "But we've got 13 players to pick from and I don't want to say much more at this stage."

Assuming Rhodes does play, Illingworth can only be thinking of dropping a front-line batsman in order to accommodate an extra bowler.