South Africa v England, Group B, Centurion September 27, 2009

War hero Smith shadows the pain of defeat

Graeme Smith's hobble back to the dressing room must rank as the most moving moment of this tournament so far
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Heroes in defeat often provide the most poignant memories in sport. Graeme Smith's hobble back to the dressing room after being dismissed tonight must rank as the most moving moment of this tournament so far, and is likely to remain so. It helped the local crowd overcome their great sadness to rise to applaud the valiance of the man who had battled the odds all evening. He had given his best, but it had not been enough.

At first, Smith walked with his head bowed, with a grimace, and perhaps feeling sick to his bones. But then the mood touched him, and it lifted him. He raised his bat and stopped to acknowledge the fans in all corners of the ground. Dale Steyn, the last man in, paused briefly for a handshake and a pat, and off Smith went, with the painful realisation that the applause would bring no comfort despite his monumental achievement.

Smith can, for the rest of his life, be proud of his feat tonight, yet it will be a night of bitter disappointment. As a man he conquered, but as a team South Africa lost. That will be hard to swallow. Sometimes you wonder what is worse in a failed chase: falling miserably short, or staying close and then flunking the final part. Heartbreak is an essential part of being a fan, but how do sportsmen reconcile themselves to what could have been?

How hard it must be for Smith, a proud and passionate man, to front up before us, men and women who have only a peripheral comprehension of what sportsmen go through, to explain why his team had come up short on the big stage once again. Sportspeople live a public life and, and as a professional, I am grateful for the access, but on a personal level, I sometimes wonder if at moments like this they shouldn't be allowed to hurt in private, alone, or among people with whom they connect.

Smith knows what to expect from these press conferences now. I was in that room in St Lucia in 2007 after South Africa had handed over the semi-final to Australia through a series of mindless strokes in the first ten overs. Today he repeated the same words to the press. "Disappointment" and how "the team had let itself down", "as a team we know what we are capable of." And "no, we didn't choke."

How hard it must be for Smith, a proud and passionate man, to front up before us, men and women who only have a peripheral comprehension of what sportsmen go through, to explain why his team had come up short on the big stage once again?

It took a little longer to come up tonight, but inevitably it did. By then, though, Smith, who perhaps knew it was coming, had already provided the answers. The coach Mickey Arthur had offered a couple of explanations - the bowlers were rusty and, unlike batsmen, they take a bit longer to hit their stride; and it didn't help that South Africa had to play Sri Lanka in Centurion, where the pitch was more subcontinental - but Smith made no excuses. "We were poor over three matches, that's plain and simple."

South Africa didn't choke today. Their bowling was merely appalling once again and England batted like they have never done in recent memory. But Smith knows what headlines to expect tomorrow, and perhaps he doesn't bother about that anymore, because he knows that nothing he says will make a difference.

South Africa's exit is a blow for the tournament. The SuperSport Park in Centurion is among the most spectator-friendly grounds in the world - perhaps too friendly, on the evidence of the ground invasion by the flag-waving Pakistani fans last night - and for two days in succession, the grass banks have been a sight.

Last night, it was the lot of the Indian fans, who constituted about three-fourths of the crowd, to go home deflated. Tonight, the South Africans left feeling utterly despondent. It is unlikely that they will turn up in such numbers for the neutral games.

Once again, a dream was shattered. The grieving will continue for a few days at least. Many will vow never to dream again. But of course they will, and once the pain recedes, they will be grateful for being there. What we watched in Centurion today was special.

Sambit Bal is the editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • CiMP on September 29, 2009, 11:30 GMT

    The controversy over Strauss refusal to allow a runner to Smith should actually be directed to the ICC for coming with clear and consistent rules.

    CRICINFO can do a great service if it can devote a section to 'case laws' of rules interpretation in cases like this. For instance I wd be able to make up my mind on this issue with a fair bit of factual help - did ever Strauss allow a runner to a cramped batsman? If such a resource already exists I wd like to be directed to it.

  • AamirYaseen on September 29, 2009, 9:43 GMT

    I'm a Pakistani so this was a neutral game for me, but because i like to take a side of one team while watching any cricket match, i choose England as my side at the start and wanted England to win the match, Owais Shah, Eoin Morgan and Paul Collingwood helped me in that cause... but when i saw Greame Smith bat the way he did, i naturally and unintentionally started supporting South Africa.. i really then wanted Greame Smith to get success for his efforts.. if Greame Smith would have had a side like Australia.. then they might well have been the invincible side..! Win and Loss is part of the game, Smith really gave life to the game..! he has done a great work for his country and cricket in general, as lot of junior cricketers around the world could get inspired of such a magnificent knock..!

  • BiSONN on September 29, 2009, 6:48 GMT

    Brilliant, brilliant innings from Smith. One of the best I've seen in a while. A true shame that it was in a losing cause, though. RSA did not deserve to get knocked out - completely unexpected.

  • shovwar on September 29, 2009, 3:34 GMT

    Thank you Mr Hobbs..... The words i was looking for....U sed it.... No one realise why SA are called chokers..... (ofcourse, people love to follow Steve Waugh rubbish words) Other teams like England, New Zealand, etc are not called chokers.... Because if England wins its a shock....(who expects them to win a tounament???) But when SA loses they are chokers cos they are such a good team people take them for granted....but its Cricket where anything can happpen..... I would say England is the biggest chokers of the came..... They started the game but have won nothing yet..... They choked against WI in CT final, choked against pakistan in WC final...and i can keep goin on.....And SA just Started the game in 90s.......lol

  • Sanj747 on September 29, 2009, 2:26 GMT

    Smith played really well and has shown that the captaincy does not affect his batting. I would like to make the point after reading articles where Mickey Arthur, AB De Velliers and Dumminy have all made comment about SAF being the number 1 team. It is time that they get rid of the obsessive focus on being No 1. Tehy are not the number 1 team. There is no number 1 team in the world at the moment. It is pretty even Stevens. SAF have been dumped out in this tournament, didn't do well at the 20-20 and lost the test series at home against Australia. Just might be time to let go of being No 1 and just play cricket. If that happens, results will automatically come.

  • maneeshkumar on September 28, 2009, 21:14 GMT

    All the matches at centurion was decided based on who won the toss! win the toss win the match. i guess teams should now only practise how to win a toss rather than batting or bowling or fielding!

  • RRR666 on September 28, 2009, 18:30 GMT

    I am sorry to se India has to wait for the other results to qualify. I also feel for SA missing out for semis and I am sure they will bounce back.

  • Dhitik on September 28, 2009, 17:38 GMT

    @I.H. Naqvi...........what is defaming about flag-waving Pakistani fans???? plz read the full sentence...sambit was stressing the point that it was a spectator friendly ground.....

  • tariq8887 on September 28, 2009, 17:34 GMT

    helo every body there i think they got wrong at the midle when deviliers lost his wicket if they left 170 runs for last 20 overs with wickets in hands i stil thought that they could win there would be t20 match for last 20 overs take the powerplay from 31 to 35 and try to get as many as u can and then play like t 20 match and secondly i think that the botha should be go out and morne morkel should be inn coase you can,t servive without enough seemers and morne is good at the end and i also want to send selectors message re think about kalis cause the worldcup is a head of just 1 years and they should find some new one with great strike rate and very young one

  • husnifaizal on September 28, 2009, 17:19 GMT

    What i feel is South African's are mentally not fit to play the big games like semi's, final's or the must win games. Because they have the scare and fear that they will loose as like India. So now what the South African cricket board should do is change the Captain and look for the "NEW" luck which there waiting for many year's. I propose Johan Botha as the new captain and has a excellent knowledge of leading the side, where he proved it in Australia. Cronje, Pollock, and smith's were not lucky enough, hope at-least the new captain's luck works for the talented South Africans.

  • CiMP on September 29, 2009, 11:30 GMT

    The controversy over Strauss refusal to allow a runner to Smith should actually be directed to the ICC for coming with clear and consistent rules.

    CRICINFO can do a great service if it can devote a section to 'case laws' of rules interpretation in cases like this. For instance I wd be able to make up my mind on this issue with a fair bit of factual help - did ever Strauss allow a runner to a cramped batsman? If such a resource already exists I wd like to be directed to it.

  • AamirYaseen on September 29, 2009, 9:43 GMT

    I'm a Pakistani so this was a neutral game for me, but because i like to take a side of one team while watching any cricket match, i choose England as my side at the start and wanted England to win the match, Owais Shah, Eoin Morgan and Paul Collingwood helped me in that cause... but when i saw Greame Smith bat the way he did, i naturally and unintentionally started supporting South Africa.. i really then wanted Greame Smith to get success for his efforts.. if Greame Smith would have had a side like Australia.. then they might well have been the invincible side..! Win and Loss is part of the game, Smith really gave life to the game..! he has done a great work for his country and cricket in general, as lot of junior cricketers around the world could get inspired of such a magnificent knock..!

  • BiSONN on September 29, 2009, 6:48 GMT

    Brilliant, brilliant innings from Smith. One of the best I've seen in a while. A true shame that it was in a losing cause, though. RSA did not deserve to get knocked out - completely unexpected.

  • shovwar on September 29, 2009, 3:34 GMT

    Thank you Mr Hobbs..... The words i was looking for....U sed it.... No one realise why SA are called chokers..... (ofcourse, people love to follow Steve Waugh rubbish words) Other teams like England, New Zealand, etc are not called chokers.... Because if England wins its a shock....(who expects them to win a tounament???) But when SA loses they are chokers cos they are such a good team people take them for granted....but its Cricket where anything can happpen..... I would say England is the biggest chokers of the came..... They started the game but have won nothing yet..... They choked against WI in CT final, choked against pakistan in WC final...and i can keep goin on.....And SA just Started the game in 90s.......lol

  • Sanj747 on September 29, 2009, 2:26 GMT

    Smith played really well and has shown that the captaincy does not affect his batting. I would like to make the point after reading articles where Mickey Arthur, AB De Velliers and Dumminy have all made comment about SAF being the number 1 team. It is time that they get rid of the obsessive focus on being No 1. Tehy are not the number 1 team. There is no number 1 team in the world at the moment. It is pretty even Stevens. SAF have been dumped out in this tournament, didn't do well at the 20-20 and lost the test series at home against Australia. Just might be time to let go of being No 1 and just play cricket. If that happens, results will automatically come.

  • maneeshkumar on September 28, 2009, 21:14 GMT

    All the matches at centurion was decided based on who won the toss! win the toss win the match. i guess teams should now only practise how to win a toss rather than batting or bowling or fielding!

  • RRR666 on September 28, 2009, 18:30 GMT

    I am sorry to se India has to wait for the other results to qualify. I also feel for SA missing out for semis and I am sure they will bounce back.

  • Dhitik on September 28, 2009, 17:38 GMT

    @I.H. Naqvi...........what is defaming about flag-waving Pakistani fans???? plz read the full sentence...sambit was stressing the point that it was a spectator friendly ground.....

  • tariq8887 on September 28, 2009, 17:34 GMT

    helo every body there i think they got wrong at the midle when deviliers lost his wicket if they left 170 runs for last 20 overs with wickets in hands i stil thought that they could win there would be t20 match for last 20 overs take the powerplay from 31 to 35 and try to get as many as u can and then play like t 20 match and secondly i think that the botha should be go out and morne morkel should be inn coase you can,t servive without enough seemers and morne is good at the end and i also want to send selectors message re think about kalis cause the worldcup is a head of just 1 years and they should find some new one with great strike rate and very young one

  • husnifaizal on September 28, 2009, 17:19 GMT

    What i feel is South African's are mentally not fit to play the big games like semi's, final's or the must win games. Because they have the scare and fear that they will loose as like India. So now what the South African cricket board should do is change the Captain and look for the "NEW" luck which there waiting for many year's. I propose Johan Botha as the new captain and has a excellent knowledge of leading the side, where he proved it in Australia. Cronje, Pollock, and smith's were not lucky enough, hope at-least the new captain's luck works for the talented South Africans.

  • Parth_Pala on September 28, 2009, 17:19 GMT

    Its unfortunate the comments here have been turned into India and South Africa bashing. Mostly by English fans who would do well to remember the drubbing that India have given them in recent memory. Pakistan is on the same boat but at least their fans are mostly humble and gracious and appreciate that you win some you lose some. Considering the conditions, batting first and one off nature of the tourney , the fans would do well to not get too high and mighty. The no.1 spot does not come out of the blue. Both India and South Africa have beaten every team home and away that's why we are where we are. Maybe its over for this tournament maybe its should on the off chance its not watch out because now you have two teams who are wounded and will bite back. And let's face match winners wise no other teams even come close. I can't wait for England's tour of South Africa, we'll see how outspoken English fans are then.

  • Avid.Cricket.Watcher on September 28, 2009, 17:10 GMT

    Sambit, I too have massive respect for Smith...but you're using the words "war hero" very inappropriately.

  • diri on September 28, 2009, 15:23 GMT

    there are players who play to win ....then there are players who play to leave u with memories that will last a life time... smith is both....in victory or in defeat the man will give u a moment that touches your heart because of the passion and attitude he plays with...in aus last year when he went out to bat with a broken hand to save the test for SA and last night the world saw the spirit of SA....we dont give up... we fight till the end....mr Smith you are a hero and will have many great victories to celebrate in the future!

  • Team13 on September 28, 2009, 15:05 GMT

    I think it's time we get some new face's in the side,Boucher,Kallis,Gibbs and co need to go. SA lack the killer instict to go out and put pressure on the opposition. India,Pakistaan, Australia and New Zealand have a few guy's who can take the game away from you in a few overs. Shah and Morgan showed us how to attack . Bring in guys like Loots and Bodi who seem to clear the boundry at will. We need a wake up call with team management, these guy's are to conservertive and scared to take chances and let some young players have a go. Look at the subcontinent teams how they manage to put guys in the national team from the age of 16 and 17. Parkistaan strike bowler only 17 gets Tendulkar's wicket, this just shows the confidence these selectors have in young talent.

  • kiddos on September 28, 2009, 14:57 GMT

    What most people don't realize here is that "one" team had to lose and fortunately or unfortunately it was RSA. We can't take the credit away from England for showing such exemplary batting, but undoubtedly Smith showed nobody in this level of Cricket gives is easily. West Indies came in with a second grade team ...but I dare not say they're second grade again!. At this level of cricket we need to understand what a cricketer goes through and support him(yes even in his failures too). Me basically being an Indian, I wanted India to win, but in the end only one team can win and it was Pakistan. With all due respect they showed brilliant character and that doesn't mean we didn't fight. I just hope everyone realizes the importance of every knock, a cricketer plays, each innings with the only one goal that his team should win!....Smith was a hero yesterdat, still is today and will be tomorrow!! ...and so will everyone who plays for their country!

  • mahesh-war on September 28, 2009, 14:29 GMT

    RSA lost the match. But Smith played really well and we have seen in recent series that he is a fighter.

  • Mr.Hobbs on September 28, 2009, 14:26 GMT

    The only reason why South Africa has been labelled ckokers is because they consistantly perform to such a level that they are expected to win every major tournament. If SA are chokers, the label also fits England. What have they won? Nothing, but then again, because they were not expected to win anything, they are not chokers. Illogical.

    Im a SA supporter, but not really a big fan of Smith the person. Notwithstanding every person that knows a bit about the game must take their hats off to the man, for that is what he has shown to be. If only some of the grace with which he walked off could rub off on some public commentary. I take my hat off to you, Mr. Smith.

    Oh yes, luckily revenge is a dish best served cold in November.

  • I.H.Naqvi on September 28, 2009, 14:04 GMT

    Sambit..you never let even a tiny opportunity to defame Pakistan slip away ...In an article praising the South African captain you some how brough "the ground invasion by the flag-waving Pakistani fans" .. what you didn' bring to notice of the readers is the unsporting attitude of Gambhir on his return to the dressing room.. even the commentators didn't utter a word on the subject and betrayed their task of commentating...He is not even banned for the today's match... such a monopoly you people have on cricket...remove the glasses of bias stop defaming Pakistan ..

  • CricketingStargazer on September 28, 2009, 13:14 GMT

    Incidentally, as an England fan, I found the game yesterday compulsive watching, but that still does not make this tournament anything other than an unnecessary luxury in an over-full calendar. Should England win, I may just cheer a couple of times (we won't though), but it won't make me love 50-over cricket any more. It's not been an exciting tournament and so far it has not really supplied any close games. Even last night there was never any point when you thought that South Africa were realistically in control of the chase. As an England fan there is the novelty of winning, but that novelty will soon wear off!

  • demon_bowler on September 28, 2009, 12:52 GMT

    Actually, this is not such a good article -- I object strongly to the lurid hyperbole of the title. Whatever his manly virtues, Smith is not a "war hero", and the suggestion must be deeply offensive to the families of those who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan, for example.

  • Hassan.Farooqi on September 28, 2009, 12:09 GMT

    Apparently the days of English nobility are over. Someday Australians would be more gentlemen than the English. haha.

    Well this is not the first time victory was stolen from South Africa by the English. Remember world cup 92? As a Pakistani fan, I was told by English fans that Pakistan did not deserve to win the final. My response was, "Well England did not deserve to win the Semi Final to begin with. It was unfairly stolen from South Africa"

    Let us see what lies for England after this latest thievery. I hope they lose to Pakistan in final once again. Haha.

  • Sri_chicago on September 28, 2009, 11:33 GMT

    Excellent article by Sambit (yet again). What we watched and felt last night has been translated into words by this very good columnist and editor. Wonderful to read - thanks Sambit. If you've omitted anything at all it's Smith's grace in defeat, especially in the after-math of the 'runner' incident.

  • Herbet on September 28, 2009, 11:23 GMT

    Smith has had an excellent 18 months or so, in a run chase or tough game saving situation he is probably the best in the world at the moment. He is, however, probably the ugliest batsmen I have ever seen. There is not an ounce of beauty in his shots. He is big and strong and most of his shots resemble punches rather than strokes, he makes Matthew Hayden look like a ballerina. This is not to say he is not one of the best batsmen of the last decade or so though. He is a class player rather than a classy one.

  • mbakir on September 28, 2009, 11:00 GMT

    I am a big supporter of RSA and I think RSA have played well, what if they lost this one? They are the only team and country which provides Africa this glory. Well played Smith!!

  • demon_bowler on September 28, 2009, 10:53 GMT

    I have to say that was a brilliant innings from Smith. I've never really warmed to the guy personally, but he has long since earned my utmost respect. When South Africa came to England last year, his iron will was the difference between the teams. And he batted most of the tour in considerable pain too. If I was going to pick a modern player to play for my life, it would be either Smith or Chanderpaul.

  • davedave on September 28, 2009, 10:34 GMT

    Smith played brilliantly but the problem with south africa is they always have too many alrounder and always headaches. They need wold class batsmen and bowlers even when they had top bowlers like Donald, Pollock they couldn't able to win any major cups since the Hero cup they played in India that was in 1993.

  • CricketingStargazer on September 28, 2009, 9:32 GMT

    I got the impression that the drop was almost strategic. With the two batsmen at the crease unable to up the tempo and the RRR rising rapidly the last thing that England needed was for a new batsman to come in with overs to spare and start blasting successfully. It reminded me of the incident in the 1979 WC Final when, with Boycott and Brearley batting comfortably, but getting further and further behind the asking rate, one of the West Indians dropped an absolute sitter and it was hard to avoid wondering if they had done it to keep the batsman there.

    Too much has been made of the Smith runner incident. If a batsman cramps up during an innings that is generally reckoned to be tough luck. If he really can't continue, he should retire hurt for treatment and return at the fall of the next wicket. You cannot expect, in a tough run chase, for the fielding captain to lay out a red carpet for the opposition. Had he permitted a runner and RSA, Andrew Strauss would have be rightly pilloried.

  • Team13 on September 28, 2009, 8:15 GMT

    I think its about time we (SA) realise that we shut our mouths (AB,Smith and co)before any big tournaments. It was pathatic to read the comments on websites how good this team is and the preparation that they have done etc.first of all we pick players of colour and leave them to sit on the bench, what an insult to the majority of South Africans. Players like Tsotsobe and Pitersen do not even get a chance to display their talents, its time we give these guys a chance to proof their talents and stop relying on the the guys who keep failing on these big occasions.

  • PROTEAFAN on September 28, 2009, 8:06 GMT

    Arthur is not the right man to coach this team, since he worries more about players egos than what is needed to win. He is also committed to certain players, and to specific roles for these players, at times without justification. Cases in point are Boucher, Arthur's "finisher" who hasn't finished much on the big occassion, Kallis, who as a no. 3 batsman has great stats but does not stand up to be counted when the team needs to win big games, and de Villiers, the aspirant "best batsman in the world" who doesn't face the new ball. There is also Duminy, who has talent, but is unsuited to T20 and 50 over cricket since he lacks the raw power to clear the fence, and if he is not on song, will really battle to win games. See the last IPL for details - like Kaliis he has good numbers, but is not a matchwinner. It is inexplicable how this coach could bring a team into a major tournament so cold, and insists on wasting atalent like Morkel down the order. Arthur should go and coach England.

  • PottedLambShanks on September 28, 2009, 8:04 GMT

    Smith failed his team and his country through a lack off fitness, so why is being lauded as a hero in this article? If he'd played on with a broken ankle sustained during the course of his innings and led his team to victory then sure he would have been a hero but he did neither.

    He lost, therefore he is a loser.

    Please stop celebrating mediocrity.

  • ameel_msn on September 28, 2009, 7:28 GMT

    I think what I found with most of the comments is a slight ignorance of the fact that batting first on a placid track and then capitalizing on it by posting mammoth numbers almost renders a chase improbable.I am a Pakistani and to be brutally honest nothing to take away from the glorifying victories of both Pakistan and England,however this appears to be the norm in One Day cricket these days.You pile on the agony of 300+ and the opponents are already deflated psychologically and physically. Despite of this overburden,the way Smith led from the front was heartwarming.He was a hero personified soaking up all the pressures of being tagged chokers selflessly.Albie's presence could have finished it off but the terrible mix-up didn't help the cause.I think SA are more professional than say Pakistan when it comes to chasing.They at least rise to the fore and fight to the finish and Smith yesterday all but did it for them.May be AB could and should have waited till semis to have his say.

  • SibaMohanty on September 28, 2009, 7:22 GMT

    Wonderful to watch Smith wage a valiant battle. Eventually, that's what matters in sport - how to fight with your back to the wall. And valour is what heroes are made of. If he got a few chances, what the hell. He made them count.

  • vinnigefanie on September 28, 2009, 7:00 GMT

    To Rohan 024 - how many centuries has your team scored in such circumstances? Give Smith credit for a good innings and a good fight. So what if he was missed twice - one with that awful stumping effort. Scahin Tendulkar was dropped three times in scoring 98 in the 2003 World Cup when India beat Pakistan at the same venue, but it is still regarded as a great innings. Your negative comments suggest you have a problem with Smith scoring a century in such conditions as those he faced last night. All credit to Smith.

  • baobabjim on September 28, 2009, 6:49 GMT

    well said Hellzphyre. As disappointed as I am at our exit (SA), great teams and players are made from more than just winning pots. The top 2 teams in ratings get there through mths and years of application. Taking nothing away from England's great performance, they cannot claim greatness yet (they came into the tournie languishing around #5 I recall). When they consistently deliver the goods, then they can claim top spot.

  • imja on September 28, 2009, 6:23 GMT

    SA need players who can win them matches single handedly.Like Mcgrath, Warne,Gilchrist,Hayden,Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting,Bevan.Thats been there problem from long time.Right now only Smith is capable to join this league.If they dont be mentally this tough then we'll c this repeatating every now and then.

  • rohan024 on September 28, 2009, 5:15 GMT

    I think too much is being made out of Smith's knock. What everyone is conveniently ignoring is that the man got 2 chances - second one a dolly dropped by Shah. One has to admit that Sri Lanka is the luckiest team in the tournament. Not only they got a game against SA on Centurion pitch but even after loosing 2 out of 3 matches, they are still in hunt for a Semi Final berth. The ICC championship trophy is panning out very well because its been a while since England and Pakistan have won a ODI tournament let alone an important one.

  • blackbuckwarlockers on September 28, 2009, 5:13 GMT

    kudos to england on a brilliant performance, they played like they have never before in the recent years and furthermore proved a point, that they can perform without the likes of pietersen and flintoff, they were literally written off, but they showed grit and character. Smith s knock was fantastic but just wasnt enough to stop england, both teams played with passion but england outshined them, this gives smith s innings a unique distinction spirited as much as the queen's boys, just that he just didnt have the support.

  • s0ldier on September 28, 2009, 4:54 GMT

    It's indeed one of the best ODI knocks from Smith - his fellow batsman should be ashamed that none could lend any support to the fighting Smith. Take a bow Smith!!

  • KapilVijan on September 28, 2009, 4:52 GMT

    With South Africa & teams like India, its the same old problem i.e. lot of promises and hype, but failing to deliver at big stages when it matters the most. These teams looks so good on paper, but when it comes to delivering the final punch; their heroes does prove to be paper heroes who gets blown by adverse situations. South Africa fans must be really disappointed, but by now after failing to deliver so many times; I guess they'll be used to it now.

  • Betting on September 28, 2009, 4:51 GMT

    Well, bad luck for SA. It's a feeling all teams and fans have experienced at some point, but people (usually) recover and move on. Anyway, regardless of who you support one single fact remains ... at every tournament, there can only be one winner. SA and Smith will move on.

  • Aahd on September 28, 2009, 4:25 GMT

    Great game. I've always thought of the South African players as the most 'robotic' blokes in world cricket. They don't show many emotions as other sides in the world do but they do give you moments where your heart goes out to them...they write some epic tragedies, this one qualifies for an ancient Greek tragedy; the higher they get the harder they fall...

  • Play_with_me on September 28, 2009, 4:22 GMT

    When will this end??? SA should have given Ntini a chance even tough Parnell was amongst the wickets. I also feel its time for someone to replace Boucher who is not at the same fire he used to be. No point in being No.1 or 2 when you cant handle pressure in major events.

  • Hellzphyre on September 28, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    Smith has many a time shouldered the responsibilities of the team beyond that expected of a captain, and had few along his side to balance out the load. Today once again he has proven why he is considered one of the grittiest leaders in modern day cricket, an event best put on display by his gesture of walking out to bat with a broken arm in Australia. To claim that teams like South Africa and India were undone by their over-confidence in their rankings is utter gibberish. On their bad days both the teams came up against teams that possessed a greater hunger for victory than theirs. Both Pakistan and England simply were outclassed by their opponents. India can at least lay claim to the fact that they were shot down by lack of performers lost to injury, merely as an excuse, but South Africa were simply outmatched and Outclassed in a brilliant batting display by England which by recent form guide can merely be considered an anomaly or the day that lady luck smiled brightly upon them.

  • marcash on September 28, 2009, 2:59 GMT

    south africa was too confident because of their ranking, like indian, but they fail in big tournament and team work as showed by pakistan and england performed better and they entitle for higher spot in these tournament. let top ranking teams remains in their dreams as top team, what good if they cannot reach top four in any tournament..

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  • marcash on September 28, 2009, 2:59 GMT

    south africa was too confident because of their ranking, like indian, but they fail in big tournament and team work as showed by pakistan and england performed better and they entitle for higher spot in these tournament. let top ranking teams remains in their dreams as top team, what good if they cannot reach top four in any tournament..

  • Hellzphyre on September 28, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    Smith has many a time shouldered the responsibilities of the team beyond that expected of a captain, and had few along his side to balance out the load. Today once again he has proven why he is considered one of the grittiest leaders in modern day cricket, an event best put on display by his gesture of walking out to bat with a broken arm in Australia. To claim that teams like South Africa and India were undone by their over-confidence in their rankings is utter gibberish. On their bad days both the teams came up against teams that possessed a greater hunger for victory than theirs. Both Pakistan and England simply were outclassed by their opponents. India can at least lay claim to the fact that they were shot down by lack of performers lost to injury, merely as an excuse, but South Africa were simply outmatched and Outclassed in a brilliant batting display by England which by recent form guide can merely be considered an anomaly or the day that lady luck smiled brightly upon them.

  • Play_with_me on September 28, 2009, 4:22 GMT

    When will this end??? SA should have given Ntini a chance even tough Parnell was amongst the wickets. I also feel its time for someone to replace Boucher who is not at the same fire he used to be. No point in being No.1 or 2 when you cant handle pressure in major events.

  • Aahd on September 28, 2009, 4:25 GMT

    Great game. I've always thought of the South African players as the most 'robotic' blokes in world cricket. They don't show many emotions as other sides in the world do but they do give you moments where your heart goes out to them...they write some epic tragedies, this one qualifies for an ancient Greek tragedy; the higher they get the harder they fall...

  • Betting on September 28, 2009, 4:51 GMT

    Well, bad luck for SA. It's a feeling all teams and fans have experienced at some point, but people (usually) recover and move on. Anyway, regardless of who you support one single fact remains ... at every tournament, there can only be one winner. SA and Smith will move on.

  • KapilVijan on September 28, 2009, 4:52 GMT

    With South Africa & teams like India, its the same old problem i.e. lot of promises and hype, but failing to deliver at big stages when it matters the most. These teams looks so good on paper, but when it comes to delivering the final punch; their heroes does prove to be paper heroes who gets blown by adverse situations. South Africa fans must be really disappointed, but by now after failing to deliver so many times; I guess they'll be used to it now.

  • s0ldier on September 28, 2009, 4:54 GMT

    It's indeed one of the best ODI knocks from Smith - his fellow batsman should be ashamed that none could lend any support to the fighting Smith. Take a bow Smith!!

  • blackbuckwarlockers on September 28, 2009, 5:13 GMT

    kudos to england on a brilliant performance, they played like they have never before in the recent years and furthermore proved a point, that they can perform without the likes of pietersen and flintoff, they were literally written off, but they showed grit and character. Smith s knock was fantastic but just wasnt enough to stop england, both teams played with passion but england outshined them, this gives smith s innings a unique distinction spirited as much as the queen's boys, just that he just didnt have the support.

  • rohan024 on September 28, 2009, 5:15 GMT

    I think too much is being made out of Smith's knock. What everyone is conveniently ignoring is that the man got 2 chances - second one a dolly dropped by Shah. One has to admit that Sri Lanka is the luckiest team in the tournament. Not only they got a game against SA on Centurion pitch but even after loosing 2 out of 3 matches, they are still in hunt for a Semi Final berth. The ICC championship trophy is panning out very well because its been a while since England and Pakistan have won a ODI tournament let alone an important one.

  • imja on September 28, 2009, 6:23 GMT

    SA need players who can win them matches single handedly.Like Mcgrath, Warne,Gilchrist,Hayden,Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting,Bevan.Thats been there problem from long time.Right now only Smith is capable to join this league.If they dont be mentally this tough then we'll c this repeatating every now and then.