Smith surge leads to medal

Pakenham champion Chris Smith claimed a third Terry Stephenson Medal on Sunday. 393920 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By David Nagel

Pakenham champion Chris Smith has capped off a magnificent season with the bat by claiming a third Terry Stephenson Medal at Holm Park Reserve on Sunday.

Previously a winner of the ‘Stevo’ in 2015/16 and 2021/22, Smith polled 22 votes to win by two from his Pakenham skipper Dale Tormey, with Tooradin premiership star Josh Lownds filling the placings on 17 votes.

Smith polled just six votes in the opening eight rounds of the season, but then went on a run-scoring rampage; polling 16 votes in his last six outings.

From round 11 through to round 14 he made scores of 140 not out, 210 not out, 214 not out and 98 against Tooradin to take his season tally to 989 runs at the extraordinary average of 109.89.

While not at Sunday’s Casey Cardinia Cricket Association awards presentation, Smith spoke to the Star News after making it back-to-back double centuries in round 13.

“I didn’t start until 12s at Pakenham Upper and pretty much tagged along with a school friend at the time, Steve Barley, but I honestly can’t remember where my interest in cricket came from apart from that,” Smith said.

“I’ve always loved sport, was always involved in football, but I do remember vividly Steve asking me to come up and train and that’s where it all began.

“I started to realise I had some sort of natural ability at age 14, and then the interest in cricket grew immensely and I was fully invested at that age.

“I had no coaching as such, apart from junior development and transitioning to the senior club.

“The senior players and coaches were all great, and I had extra net sessions with my cousin as well.

“I was just having some fun with him down at the nets before things got a little more serious.

“Chris Gunton, he put some time into me and helped tweak a few little things here and there as well.”

Smith made his 1st XI debut at Pakenham Upper as a 15-year-old on February 4, 2006, against Cardinia.

He made 10 in his first innings and followed that up with 26 not out in the final game of the season against Merinda Park.

He would go on to make 533 runs at an average of 59.33 in his first full season in 2006/07; making his first century (105 not) against Pakenham and five half-centuries for the season.

Smith is now in his 11th season at Pakenham, joining the club for the 2013/14 season.

He has become one of the greats of the club, making two double-centuries, 12 tons and 28 fifties.

He has made 5715 runs since moving to Toomuc Reserve at the elite average of 46.09.

He has made centuries in seven of those 11 seasons, with top scores in the nineties in three others, and now holds the club record at Pakenham for the highest score in an individual innings in the top flight.

Long-time Pakenham President Phil Anning knew the gift his club was receiving.

“We knew of his ability long before he came to Pakenham, he made a century against us at 16, so we were thrilled when he made the decision to join our club,” Anning said.

“Since the day he walked through the door he has embraced our culture and has been nothing but a pleasure to deal with.

“It’s hard to compare eras; but he’s made 12 centuries and two double centuries now, which is just incredible.

“Statistics don’t lie, and statistically he has to be the best ever player at Pakenham.

“Eddie Lewis, Dallas Wyatt; they were great players for our club, but I think Chris has earned that number-one mantle now.

“If Dale Tormey plays for another five years, still averaging 60, we might be having a similar discussion then, but right now; statistically; Chris Smith is the best player we’ve ever had.

“A few of the old-timers won’t be happy to hear that, but I think he’s deserved it now.”

Respect from others, and loyalty to his club are two commodities that Anning admires most.

“There were a lot of comments on Saturday night, and quite a few from his peers at Pakenham, but there were equally as many from other clubs and that shows the true respect he has around the competition,” he said.

“Aaron Avery, Tom Hussey, Chris Bright; they all commented on his efforts, and it just shows the respect he has, not just as a cricketer, but also as a person.

“He could go and earn and money at other clubs, he gets offers every year, but his loyalty and commitment to Pakenham is second to none.

“He gives a lot more to Pakenham than what we give to him.

“I’d love to tell you more, but Chris would hate me doing that; let’s just say his selflessness isn’t fully appreciated across the league like it is here at Pakenham.”

The gravitas of his back-to-back double centuries hadn’t kicked in at the time.

“Maybe not as much as it should at the moment, but it’s happened so fast that it’s hard to let it sink in,” Smith explained.

“I was getting messages from family and friends, and other players in the competition, so it does make you think about it a little bit more I suppose.

“Maybe post-season I’ll reflect on it, but right now, I’m just thinking this is bizarre.

“I never thought I’d make a double ton, so to go back-to-back; it’s just unreal, and I’m just riding that wave of luck at the moment.”



PREMIER Chris Smith Pakenham 22


DISTRICT Sembakuttige Lakshan Emerald 20

A GRADE Luke Adams Tooradin 21

B GRADE John Simpson Clyde 23

C GRADE Corey Leslie Devon Meadows 18

D GRADE Chris Smith Merinda Park 17

E GRADE Chris Remy Cardinia 20

ONE DAY Mike Chapman Carlisle Park 19


Chris Smith Pakenham 22

Dale Tormey Pakenham 20

Josh Lownds Tooradin 17

Travis Wheller Cardinia 16

Chris Bright Kooweerup 15

Steven Dillon Kooweerup 14

Brad Butler Tooradin 13

Morteza Ali Cardinia 12

Cal O’Hare Tooradin 12

Luke McMaster Kooweerup 10

Lucas Ligt Devon Meadows 10



2023/24 Chris Smith Pakenham 22

2022/23 Dale Tormey Pakenham 22

2021/22 Chris Smith Pakenham 17

2020/21 Jake Prosser Cardinia 16

2019/20 Russell Lehman Tooradin 26

2018/19 Dale Tormey Pakenham 19

2017/18 Jess Mathers Kooweerup 22

2016/17 Mark Cooper Kooweerup 23

2015/16 Chris Smith Pakenham 18

2014/15 Russell Lehman Pakenham 21


PREMIER Chris Smith Pakenham 989

DISTRICT Sembakuttige Lakshan Emerald 631

A GRADE Nathan Kleinig Devon Meadows 502

B GRADE John Simpson Clyde 609

C GRADE Darren Kneebone Officer 418

D GRADE Leigh Smith Merinda Park 518

E GRADE Chris Remy Cardinia 601

ONE DAY Likhesh Mahajan Emerald 288


PREMIER Chris Smith Pakenham 109.89

DISTRICT Sembakuttige Lakshan Emerald 63.10

A GRADE Nathan Kleinig Devon Meadows 62.75

B GRADE John Simpson Clyde 76.13

C GRADE Darren Kneebone Officer 41.80

D GRADE Paul Kezik Pakenham 64.20

E GRADE Johnee Cuthbertson Merinda Park 143.00

ONE DAY Likhesh Mahajan Emerald 57.60


PREMIER Travis Wheller Cardinia 29

DISTRICT Cooper Pursell Officer 29

A GRADE Nick Booth Kooweerup 30

B GRADE Abhi Sharma Officer 22

C GRADE Robert Strang Officer 22

Gerrad Gilmore Kooweerup 22

Bailey Smith PUT 22

D GRADE John Hutchinson Pakenham 22

E GRADE Ryon Tocknell NNG/Maryknoll 21

ONE DAY Warwick Marsh Emerald 16


PREMIER Josh Lownds Tooradin 9.13

DISTRICT Kyle Gibbs Upper Beaconsfield 9.09

A GRADE Thomas Cairns Kooweerup 11.26

B GRADE Abhi Sharma Officer 12.64

C GRADE Robert Strang Officer 11.50

D GRADE Shane White Officer 10.19

E GRADE Ryon Tocknell NNG/Maryknoll 7.62

ONE DAY Warwick Marsh Emerald 8.88