England v South Africa, 3rd Investec Test, Lord's, 5th day August 20, 2012

Smith savours 'wonderful' triumph

ESPNcricinfo staff

Graeme Smith was breathing a sigh of relief after South Africa secured a 51-run victory at Lord's to rise to top the world Test rankings. They were given a scare during the final session, as Matt Prior and Graeme Swann had a dart before the second new ball, but they held their nerve and Vernon Philander finished the series with two wickets in two balls.

"It was a top Test match, the wicket played its part and both teams played well," Smith said. "We really had to set up the game and work hard for that. There was some great batting from Matt Prior and Graeme Swann, some great shots, to put us under pressure and it was wonderful to come through.

"I stayed with the belief. You do start to have nervous moments but you just have to stay focused and know that they would have to do something spectacular. Vernon got it perfect."

Andrew Strauss had admitted England were outplayed in all departments during the series and Smith pinpointed South Africa's ability to post big totals - led by their 637 for 2 at The Oval - as a key part of their success.

"We are able to post totals and build partnerships to get scores on the board which allowed out bowlers a little more freedom," he said. "It allowed them to attack and get the rewards. We caught well, too. It's a long time to stay focused and deal with the pressure. To have won 2-0 is a great feeling."

During the presentation Smith carried a hastily scribbled message to Mark Boucher on his shirt. 'We miss u Bouch' it simply read after the wicketkeeper had been forced to retire during the early days of the tour when he sustained an awful eye injury at Taunton.

"I know that he is watching," Smith said. "It's a message from all of us. He's been an integral part of Proteas for 147 games and this was meant to be his 150th Test. We just wanted to let him know he was with us here today."

Looking ahead, Smith acknowledged that it would not be easy to hold on to top spot, as England have spent the last year finding out, and wants South Africa to develop a strong squad of players.

"We need to have a strong base so when the wind blows we can handle ourselves," he said. "We need to increase our bowling depth in case we get injuries and have players who can come in and perform. These guys have built a formidable unit but we have Australia next and that will be an awesome challenge for us. Hopefully we can push forward and take control."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Robyn on August 22, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    @popcorn ... i love how the aussies are speaking up right now ... wait your turn ... we on our way hahaha. Waiting to unleash your weapons ?? and what will that be ?As for current form mate .... well lets be honest ... for a while now .... Aussies really have nothing on SA. I think once again everyone is forgetting that the difference with this SA side ... is Gary Kirsten as our coach. In his short time as coach ... we can see the huge difference already. Do you honestly think we not going to come down under prepared ?? hahaha .... we ready and waiting mate !!!

  • Rajaram on August 21, 2012, 15:26 GMT

    Welcome to the Gabba,Saffers.We're waiting to unleash our weapons.We're Number 2 currently. Only currently.We try harder. And we'll be Number One by this summer.

  • A on August 21, 2012, 15:17 GMT

    Eng minus KP (I hope) will settle, rebuild and be back in the no 1 position within 12 months. After we've beaten India in India, we'll gently remind the Aussies of how far they've sunk in back-to-back Ashes victories and look back on this magnificent series against the Saffers as a minor hiccough along the road to excellence. No need to run around like headless chcikens and hold a review, just time for quiet, calm, steely reflection and a cold drawing up of plans.

  • A on August 21, 2012, 14:33 GMT

    Australia have as much chance of beating the saffers than getting more than 1 gold in the Olympic swimming pool.....Can;t wait for the Aussies to unearth some decent talent so we can have a decent Ashes contest but sadly that remains a dream for years to come.

  • Gavin on August 21, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    Well done Proteas. Next stop Australia, time to teach them how to play in their backyards before we are witnessto a boring ashes marathon of teams ranked 4 and 5. Its time the top 2 teams had a minimum of 5 matches when they meet each other.

  • Daniel on August 21, 2012, 13:49 GMT

    Well done to South Africa for beating England fairly and squarely. They played the better cricket, batted, fielded and bowled much better. England competed well in the last two tests but we were just not good enough.

    Well done South Africa.

  • Randolph on August 21, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    When Australia beats South Africa we will return to our rightful place as #1

  • Randolph on August 21, 2012, 13:20 GMT

    Mark, what happened to Fortress England? Smith has put another English captain (the 3rd) to the sword.

  • Dummy4 on August 21, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    South Africa have shown and proved to have an incredibly well balanced side.The proteas batting, bowling and fielding was exemplary of a world class #1 team.This team should go on and retain the top spot far longer than England did and The Australians will have it extremely hard to match this side come their series. well done proteas, excellent performance, it could have been a 3-0 win but for rain and KP at Leeds

  • Dummy4 on August 21, 2012, 12:02 GMT

    A lot of SA's success in the past 12-18 months seem to be due to the emergence of Vernon Philander and Hasim Amla. These guys have taken Test Cricket to a new level with their terrific peformance. However, wonder if a genuine swing bowler like Philander will be able to match his past performance in the sub-continent pitches or even in Australia where Pace and Bounce are more relavant than Swing. Not saying that he will be flop but it would be interesting to see if he can get the same strike-rate like he has over the past 18 months. Anyways, Good Job SA. Keep it going if you can!!

  • No featured comments at the moment.