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England v South Africa, 3rd Test, Edgbaston, 4th day
David Lloyd: Smith the hero
August 2, 2008
Smith's epic innings set up historic series win for South Africa
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Graeme Smith celebrates his magnificent hundred © Getty Images
Andrew Miller: At the end of a pulsating fourth day's play, South Africa have won the Test match, and their first series in England since 1965. David Lloyd, Graeme Smith is a hero.

David Lloyd: Heroic, absolutely that's what it is. It was colossal innings, it was wonderful to watch. Captain's innings as they say. He looked strong, he looked committed and his strokeplay was excellent. That battle with Monty Panesar, over the wicket on to a wearing pitch and a lot of dusty areas - he worked out the way to play. He took his guard on middle and off and he got way outside off stump so that he couldn't be given out lbw. I found that fascinating. His straight driving of [Andrew] Flintoff was faultless. He led from the front. I think this is such a big game for South Africa as they've fallen short a couple of times since 1965. It's a special effort.

AM: As a snap judgment, obviously the match finished only moments ago, but where would you place Smith's knock in terms of innings that you have seen?

DL: Well, it's right up there in terms of the captain leading from the front, opening the batting, 281 to get, fourth innings, so he has had all sorts of things on his mind throughout the game. England came back strongly at South Africa and he put that right out of him mind. It was a really good innings - the way that he compiled his innings and the way that he blunted England right at the top when they came out firing, as any team should do. But he quietened England down with that opening partnership, and then took it from there.

How many times do we talk about England's batman scoring 40s, 60s, 70s. Smith showed how to play a tempo innings by taking responsibility. He has not only won the game but he's scored 154 runs himself in doing it by not actually going outside the rhythm of his play. It was only in his last over that he changed his expression on his face when he tried to finish it with one swipe and then had a chuckle and thought, 'let's finish this properly.' An epic innings, it was brilliant to watch.

AM: It almost makes his performances here and at Lord's in 2003 seem like minor bit parts really, isn't it?

DL: Yes, he is very impressive chap and if you watched his captaincy as he went along in the job, it was a bit awry. But he is now more thoughtful, and I think his captaincy, especially with regard to his bowling changes, were excellent. That's partly why South Africa are 2-0 up in the series with a dead rubber to play.

But his batting is very mature. You forget that he is only 27, because when you look at him, he is such an enormous chap. And for a big man, he is good on his feet, he uses the depth of the crease well and when he plays his attacking forward shots, he is so low to the ground. So many big fellows will stand upright and just stand and deliver and blaze away. But he gets right down and sniffs the ball out when he is driving through the offside and straight.

AM: At one stage of the day, of course, South Africa were in a hell of a lot of trouble and largely due to the side screen, which has been such an issue all through the match.

DL: Yes, and I suppose it's a mystery that we can try and explain. This is not normally the Test match pitch, because people will be saying, 'there have been so many Test matches that have been played in Edgbaston, so what's the problem.' But, this is not the normal pitch; it has moved along one, two or three pitches, they've never played that far over and that has been the problem. There is nothing in the laws of the game, I have scanned them, and everybody has, that says that you can't alter or put a sheet over. But they have elected not to do that and it's a complete mystery that there has been only one bowler who has been a problem and that's Flintoff, and again he's bowled to other right-handed batsmen, to Mark Boucher in this innings, and there hasn't been a problem. So it's been a complete mystery, but we won't have that mystery next year because the Test match pitch, the Ashes pitch, moves along two or three.

AM: It was 83 for 3 when [Jacques] Kallis fell. It looked like South Africa were exploding, there was a bit of acrimony as he left the pitch. Did you think England had it at that stage?

DL: Well, it was a big wicket and Kallis is always a big wicket. And at 170 for 5, many people were saying that England will win. There were question marks over South Africa, and it's an awful word to use and I don't use it as a word of mine, but chokers came out. But Smith and Boucher laid that to rest.

They have come through really well in this series, South Africa. After a jittery start at Lord's, they have come back really strongly and all credit to them. It must be so special for the team and the management, not having won a series in England since 1965. They must be doing something right and I can't wait until South Africa play Australia. I think that is going to be some series.

AM: And a final word on England now. This is their second home series defeat in a row against major nations, after their loss against India last summer. Is Michael Vaughan going to be under some pressure now?

DL: He will be, but I don't think that there is any question of Vaughan resigning as captain. They've got one Test match still to play, but to me, the reason why England lose is because they just don't get enough runs. If anybody points back to Lord's, they will notice that England scored 593. That score doesn't happen often, but it was a terrific effort, and that's how they should do it. There are too many pretty innings, good knocks, 60s and 70s, but you need to play a big match innings like Smith's to win.

AM: Well, that's exactly what he has gone and done. England have been beaten by South Africa in Edgbaston. You've been listening to Cricinfo Talk.

Comments: 4 
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Posted by Rahil on (August 5, 2008, 10:51 GMT)

England only have themselves to blame for Smith being out a few times but not being given out, after all it was England who rejected the proposal to try out the new ICC reviewal. Had they gone for the reviews then this test would have finished differently, most England supporters were against the reviewal method before, i wonder what their opinions are now?

Posted by James on (August 2, 2008, 22:43 GMT)

I agree that Smith's innings was a captain's innings, but... Smith should have been out at least twice to my memory, maybe three times. That LBW shout against Panesar was plumb. And why was the shout against him for a catch behind not more vociferous?

I'm not bitter though. South Africa really deserved to win the match - they took whatever luck came their way, they were disciplined, they were better than England. But this test match was a little closer than the scoreline says.

Posted by Sandip on (August 2, 2008, 22:38 GMT)

Vaughan has no leadership to see England win. He is unable to lead from front (scoring run), has no agreesive personality and doesn't enthuse players (saw that slap on Monty's head after he took the wicket). It is MCC and ECB who is holding English cricket back and till these so called vanguard of English cricket are removed, cricket in England is not going to be in par with top world teams. We have many talented players but ECB hangs on to to players like Strauss and keeper like Ambrose who can't bat against quality bowling. There has to a radical thinking in team selection for England before anything positive comes on for thousands of English fans on the pitach.

Posted by 100% on (August 2, 2008, 22:10 GMT)

It's a great victory for SA, and it is about time Vaughan take a back seat. Not doing well at the top and not good with the bath, very rearly he performs. Also the english comentators esp. Ian and Hussain needs to comentate much better abt there players. It seems as tho they didn't had bad times during the cricketing career.

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