July 9, 2012

South African cricket

Smith's uncanny capacity to unsettle England

Nikita Bastian

England should remember that it is best not to rile Graeme Smith, Steve James points out in the Daily Telegraph.

When he arrived here in 2003 as a 22 year-old with the burden of captaincy suddenly thrown upon him, his opposite number Nasser Hussain forgot his name. “Whatshisname” Hussain said. Five hundred and forty one minutes and 277 runs later Hussain knew all about the left-hander from Johannesburg. Hussain promptly resigned after that first Test in Birmingham

Five years later ... in the third Test at Birmingham South Africa were required to chase 281 to win on a wearing pitch. He made an utterly magisterial 154 not out to win the match and the series. The following morning Hussain’s successor, Michael Vaughan, tearfully announced his resignation.

Scyld Berry, writing in the same paper, says Smith’s team is doing everything to prepare for the that will decide who is No. 1, except learn from the mistake they made on their tour to England in 2008.

On that occasion South Africa went into the first Test so under-prepared that they were dismissed for 247 and followed on 346 runs behind. Lord’s flattened out, as Lord’s now unfortunately does, and South Africa escaped with a draw.

[Now] After a long lay-off, these South Africans have a two-day game against Somerset and a three-day game against Kent, in the middle of a ‘summer’ when the jet-stream has decided to advance much further south than normal. Even if Somerset and Kent violate all modern practice by fielding their strongest sides for a tour match, and the sun does the equally unprecedented thing of shining, most of the tourists will still go into the first Test underdone.

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Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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