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Freelance cricket writer in South Africa

Respect to Biff

Graeme Smith has been a figure easy to misunderstand. That should not hide the fact that he is among the toughest, most intelligent cricketers around - and a great batsman to boot

Telford Vice

July 19, 2012

Comments: 59 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Smith read out a statement from Mark Boucher, Somerset v South Africans, Tour match, Taunton, 2nd day, July 10, 2012
Smith: brings out the worst in people © Getty Images
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There are only two players called Graeme in the annals of South African Test cricket. In fact, one is named after the other. Both bat left-handed and both are renowned for hitting the ball with a controlled fury that suggests they never want to lay eyes on the offending orb ever again.

Pollock is the surname of one of these Graemes, and there will be no quibble that he is among the greatest players ever to pick up a bat - even though he earned just 23 caps for a team that purported to represent a country whose laws forbade, on racial grounds, trying to discover if batsmen better than or even as good as him were to be found within its borders.

The other Graeme is on the verge of playing his 100th Test. He has scored 8042 runs with 24 centuries for an average of 49.64. Currently he is ranked the tenth best batsman in the game but he has been perched as high as second in the past.

He has opened the batting in 96 of his 99 Tests and among active players only Virender Sehwag's 51.64 is a higher average than the 50.69 Smith has achieved when taking guard at the top of the order.

This Graeme has a higher career average as an opener than Sunil Gavaskar, Geoffrey Boycott, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Chris Gayle and Graham Gooch. He is the game's leading run scorer among active openers - Sehwag is eight runs behind him - and on the all-time list only Gavaskar, Matthew Hayden, Boycott and Gooch have been more prolific.

Despite having to take on fresh bowlers armed with a new ball on pitches at their juiciest, he has been part of 25 century stands, nine double-century stands, three triple-century stands, and a quadruple-century stand. That means he has helped push a partnership past three figures more than a fifth of the time he has gone out to bat. This helps explain why he has been run out only twice in his 174 innings.

More than all that, his imposing frame moving malevolently from the boundary to the crease makes a menacing sight for opponents. He strides with legs like the pillars of a cathedral and shoulders big and wide enough to knock down the same, all the while aiming his anvil of a jaw at the world and staring a dark hole through it.

Then he slices a deep groove across the crease using the edge of his mighty boot, bobs into a half-crouch, tucks his jaw behind his right shoulder, sticks out his backside, and proceeds to play some of the most unpretty strokes known to batsmanship.

Unpretty, that is, in the sense that they jar with the received aesthetics of how a cricket ball should be stroked. Or even with the unreceived aesthetics. In fact, it would be fair to say that his batting is denuded of anything so frivolous as aesthetics.

But as the numbers above prove, that does not stop him from treating bowlers as if they were a disease he has come to cure. There is a singular brutality in the way he hits a cricket ball that must make the uninitiated wonder whether they should call the police. Sometimes, when he is batting with the kind of intent that veers close to illegal, what with that unashamedly round-handed grip and his utter refusal to add a dash of finesse to anything, the ground does indeed resemble a crime scene.

Allied to all that is a spirit that rivals Mark Boucher's for competitiveness, and a mean streak that he sometimes makes no attempt to hide. He does not have Jacques Kallis' pure class (then again, who does?) nor AB de Villiers' pure talent (ditto), but he has a lot more besides that is often more valuable to his team than class, talent or both. He is a champion among champions and the South African team wouldn't be half the unit it is without him.

He is Graeme Smith and he should be a bona fide modern great. Should be, but isn't. Not where it counts: in the hearts and minds of many of those who decide such things. That would be us, cricket's great unwashed mass of professional and amateur opinionistas.

The reasons are many and complex but they boil down to the awkward truth that Smith brings out the worst in people. Not nearly all people, mind, but enough for what should be a comfortable stroll into the pantheon to be strewn with speedbumps and hairpin bends. His defenders are legion and easily outnumber his detractors, but the negative noise about Smith is significant and constant. In fact, a figure more loved as well as unloved would be difficult to find anywhere in the game.

Many of the reasons for this are rooted in the image Smith projected in his first few years as South Africa's captain. The man he followed, Shaun Pollock, was rational, gentlemanly and dispassionate - more Henry Kissinger than Henry V. Having succeeded the corrupt betrayer Hansie Cronje, Pollock had no choice but to be what was required.

So it was with Smith. When he was appointed, in the gloom of South Africa's first-round exit from their own World Cup in 2003, a strong, uncompromising, partisan voice was needed. Smith gave the country that voice, loud and clear. Sometimes too loudly and too clearly. He wore an overtly honest heart on his sleeve, often to extremes.

His default setting was bullishness and it took little prompting to crank that up to belligerence. He gave the media and the public a caricature of what they demanded, and no one complained. After Cronje's deviousness and Pollock's diplomacy, a bloke who told us what he bloody well thought and to hell with anything else was exactly what we wanted.

 
 
People think of Smith as an emotional oaf because he chews gum like a nightclub bouncer and doesn't blink in the heat of a confrontation. Then he says something to make them understand that they are dealing with a particularly sharp-witted man who isn't afraid to take them on
 

But as the painful memories of the Cronje and Pollock eras eased so the tolerance of Smith's rough edges melted away. What was once seen as charm was changed to churlishness; boyishness became boorishness; he wasn't strong, he was stifling. By the time Smith mellowed into his role and found the breathing space required to infuse his dealings with the real world with humour, it was too late. When he relaxed further and became one of the most insightful and articulate observers of the game, few noticed. He was big, bad Biff, and his type was cast.

In this he is, in large part, a victim of an age in which cricketers are conditioned not to say or do anything that could upset sponsors, broadcasters, the public, administrators, the opposition or anyone else who could be described as a stakeholder in the game. "Media training" means being taught to make only the blandest of pronouncements to the press, and if a gloss of enthusiasm is applied to these nothingnesses, even better. So much so that when players do stand out as individuals, they risk being misunderstood as rebels, or worse. Not true? How many disapprove of Sreesanth because of what they think they can gather of his personality from the stands, or of Lasith Malinga because of his mad mop of hair?

By the same token, people think of Smith as an emotional oaf because he chews gum like a nightclub bouncer and doesn't blink in the heat of a confrontation. Then he says something to make them understand that they are dealing with a particularly sharp-witted man who isn't afraid to take them on. That makes Smith as tough an opponent off the field as on it. It also makes him less likeable for those who prefer their cricketers to be untouchably aloof - all the better to be able to make up their minds about them on the flimsiest evidence and to influence others to do the same.

Smith will not allow that. Instead, he engages, argues, berates, belittles, offends, gets things badly wrong, gets them spectacularly right, soars to triumph in the time it takes to walk out to bat with a broken hand, and crashes to earth again by not understanding why a nation needs to see him come home with his team after they have made a mess of another World Cup campaign.

He shows more humanity than entire teams of other players put together, which means he is capable of driving this reporter clean around the twist with his all too ordinary actions and utterances in certain situations. He is also able to send me into orbits of praise for the clear-eyed, epic leadership he unfurls just when his team and his country need it most.

But sometimes Smith the captain seems to wield a personality so big it seems to eclipse the very existence of Smith the batsman. Who can blame observers for struggling to separate them? They should try harder, because Smith is at least as great a batsman as the other Graeme, and he has proved it. Give him his respect and his credit. He has earned no less than that.

Telford Vice is a freelance cricket writer in South Africa

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Posted by SuperSharky on (July 22, 2012, 11:19 GMT)

@Raziul Nur on (July 20 2012, 07:55 AM GMT): I totally agree with you on the best captain ever. Graeme isn't the best captain, but don't forget that he won a series against Australia in Australia when Australia were number one. And Smith already had a series win against England in England. That is rare. A person that wants to have a tough image and a "I don't take nonsense" attitude, could fit for a hero, but with a leader you need an important leading quality to unite a team so that every team-member feels special and important. Jonty Rhodes and some of his team-mates said that Hansie Cronje had that outstanding quality.

Posted by SuperSharky on (July 21, 2012, 17:09 GMT)

Graeme Smith is a good batsmen, but not a great captain. Early in his captaincy he lacked the motivation to back other people so that they would back him. Remember how he handled Klusener and a few others. He also made some crucial mistakes on the field that cost South Africa a win. But he is better now. If he wasn't he would have been sacked already because a lot of people were fed up with him before his series win down under in Australia. If South Africa were to become number one, I would praise Gary Kirsten and the team. The Gary-era brought this new Smith.

Posted by Hazeyrocks on (July 21, 2012, 6:08 GMT)

I am a fan always was. I think the problem is sometimes he cares what the South African public thinks too much. He should just focus on his batting and not justify things. He is that good

Posted by MattyP1979 on (July 21, 2012, 5:12 GMT)

Very very good batsman, very average captain. I prefer Strauss who is not as handy with the willow but a little better in leading the troops. Proof is in the pudding, on paper SA have better side than Eng but we seem to get over the line more often. He still has a few more years in him and I wish him all the best AFTER this series. He has a chance to take this very good team to no.1 but will he?

Posted by mahjut on (July 20, 2012, 23:22 GMT)

I think Smith is a decent captain who, but for one or two early miscalculations that he has not recovered from, could've been great - he isn't though. What i like (no seriously, love) is how the guy bats in the second innings ... compared with his peers as someone whould have us od - he is never mentioned in the same context as KP - who comes in at 5 and still has no better an average. there is nothing as tough as opening and Biff does the job every good (mostly better) than his peers. I have always been a fan - i think someone could've done the ODI stuff better but the guy is a proper test bat!! i will miss him when he goes

Posted by sadha1972 on (July 20, 2012, 10:12 GMT)

he is a poor captain and if not for him south africa would have been world champions and one the greatest teams in the world.mediocre at best no respect for him.

Posted by DangaGanga on (July 20, 2012, 9:14 GMT)

Biff is serious captian and an even better opening bat, goes to show how good he really is when you look at who he's scored his runs against. Sehwag is a great palyer but on batting friendly wickets you going to score loads....

Posted by   on (July 20, 2012, 7:55 GMT)

I am a die hard SA fan. Smith is a very good batsman but a moderate captain. With a side like SA over the years, its nothing remarkble he has done. No big trophy, no real great test series win. He is no way near to Cronje. The way Cronje used to lead is remarkble. The best captain so far in the world is Hansie, no doubt. In so many matches SA suffrerd due to Smith's wrong desicions in and out of the field. His winning % is not at all great. I wonder how come he is a great captain!!! (above comments made me think like this).

Posted by gorsi on (July 20, 2012, 4:52 GMT)

I think if there ever was a player quite like ganguly that is smith. Amount of service done to south African cricket by this man is paralleld by nobody. But like in case of of Ganguly captain following him will reap the benefits of work done by him... Hats off to this guy for being such an amazing batsman and Astute captain woh has pulled out SA from the lowest ebb they have ever been... and believe ICC trophy is coming their way quite soon.. and credit for that has to be given to this Man !!!

Posted by Vindaliew on (July 20, 2012, 0:41 GMT)

I don't think Graeme Smith will find it harder to find acceptance than Ricky Ponting, whose name has already been carved, on merit, among the other legends of the game. If Ponting can let his bat do the talking despite being vilified outside his own country, Smith will surely not be far behind. If anything, Smith formed the leadership pillar around which the team's success was built (there's only so much even a great player like Kallis can do on his own), while Ponting was just fortunate to have a team of 11 great players at his disposal (although his credentials as a batsman are, of course, unquestioned). While Ponting's best days are probably behind him, Smith has everything to play for in the future. It's hard to believe he's still so young.

Posted by Chris_P on (July 19, 2012, 23:27 GMT)

@Bikash Shilpakar Your point would be valid if they played on the same pitches. Whereas Sehwag mostly plays on batting tracks that are not bowler friendly, Smith has to play on pace friendly tracks most times he bats. Compare their averages in England & see what I mean. Averages don't do players justice in many cases & inflate ordinary players in others. Sehwag is a very destructive batsman, but in all conditions, falls well behind this guy even if you want to toss in averages around the world. If you play competitive cricket, you should know this.

Posted by whatawicket on (July 19, 2012, 21:43 GMT)

i thinks as hes got older he has mellowed and the better captain for it. in Vaughan book he say of smith in he ear saying, lets see how i can say this and get it posted, he called into account his sexuality. as to seeing off captains this is a piece of nonsense the thing cricket punters seem to say and expect that they say it so it must be true. nasser was given a job with sky and most knew well before this similar with vaughn he i think had captained england over 5 years which if you check was more than 90% of other captains and he also worked with both the bbc and ch5 and would think doubled their wage

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 18:20 GMT)

good article but a bad statistics... Sehwag has more runs than him and better average... :P

Posted by visn on (July 19, 2012, 14:24 GMT)

Nonsense. Judge him by his peers. Ponting, Vettori, Sangakarra, Dravid, Jayawardene, Strauss and the whole lot of them. He is the runt, plain and simple.

Posted by Daniel_Smith on (July 19, 2012, 11:59 GMT)

Any cricketing nation would be proud to have Graeme Smith in their side. Any team would be proud and confident to have Graeme Smith on their side. I write this as an Englishman but I'm sure I speak for many. As an opponent he commands respect and appreciation. He's achieved a hell of a lot for a young man, and there's still a lot more. It'll only be when he's gone that South Africa will truly appreciate what he's done for you.

Posted by 777aditya on (July 19, 2012, 11:44 GMT)

much ado about nothing, this article - it is a plain fact that Smith is amongst the game's most reputed batsmen and a decent captain (period)!

Posted by Boodah on (July 19, 2012, 11:35 GMT)

well written article... i became a huge fan of smith in his first tour of england... made captain at a young age, and he was up against it. nothing like a double hundred to silence the critics. however, while there is no denying his greatness, i think he is at the twilight of his career. bowlers have worked him out. if he doesn't score on this tour, i think he must go and a new young opener be given a chance. i will never forget his heroics vs australia - made me proud to be a south african supporter.

Posted by KingOwl on (July 19, 2012, 11:32 GMT)

"Not where it counts: in the hearts and minds of many of those who decide such things. That would be us..." says, Mr. Vice. I disagree. There are billion plus cricket fans in the world - South Asians far out number everyone else. It is they who decide who is great. Not a handful of journalists - journalists have lost most of their power due to online forums. Journalists' failed attempts at hyping certain players is a testament to that. As one such fan who writes frequently, I can say that Smith is certainly recognized as a great cricketer and a great captain by most fans. Look at how fans from all over the world responded when he batted with a broken hand. The gruff personality that you talk about is not an issue for many fans. His conduct on field is FAR better than some of the Aussies such as Ponting and McGrath - they were pretty uncivilized people, to say the least. So, Greame Smith is a great cricketer. The vast majority of fans will agree, I am sure.

Posted by Rahul.Jaiswal on (July 19, 2012, 10:56 GMT)

A World Cup win is eluding him from Greatness !

Posted by cricconnossieur on (July 19, 2012, 10:25 GMT)

Clever use of numbers to project Greame Smith as a great batsman, rate him higher than Gavaskar, Boycott and the likes. Smiths's career ave is 49.64 which is lower than SMG and Boycs who have averaged in the 50s. Gavaskar has an ave of 48 something at No.1 and 78 at No.2 . Therefore, the author infers that Smith has a better average. Since when did we distinguish opening batsman as No.1 nad 2 ?! Right now and here ! Very clever !

Posted by JimDavis on (July 19, 2012, 10:18 GMT)

My own view on Smith is that he should be the pin up boy for the IPL. So much about him changed for the better after his first IPL season. Maybe it was just down to mixing with cricketers from around the world, maybe it was just being in a team with Warnie, maybe it just all came about at the time he was ready to grow up, what ever it was he was a different man after that. Well done on 100 games.

Posted by Marktc on (July 19, 2012, 9:58 GMT)

A good tribute to a great cricket. Even though the writer seems to have a boyhood crush on the man. But his points about Smith are valid. Being unpopular does not mean you are not a good cricketer. I also do not think Smith gets the credit that he has earned. Smith stats are among the best and yet still do not tell of him importance to the team. He is a motivator and a strong leader. My biggest criticism about this article is the Hansie bashing. The dude was brilliant, he made a mistake, owned up to it and paid the price. Leave him to rest in peace.

Posted by sharidas on (July 19, 2012, 9:47 GMT)

Frankly, I have always had respect for Graeme Smith. As a young captain taking over a team of seniors, he did have his share of problems. But he went through that phase and performed well too. A tough guy!

Posted by Ashish_514 on (July 19, 2012, 9:38 GMT)

I only wonder if he would have been even better batsman had he not been burdened with captaincy at such a young age. There must be something in his batting that would have made selectors to appoint him a captain. He's achieved a lot but i dunno if,as a batsman, he has reached the expectations of those who saw greatness in him at the young age of 22. Carrying on with the captaincy successfully for more than 8 years is no mean feat by itself. I respect Smith the captain more than smith the batsman.

Posted by klempie on (July 19, 2012, 8:10 GMT)

I honestly don't know why my fellow countrymen give this man so much flack. He took over a team in the midst of national shame and built the nucleus that we saw get series wins over the Poms and Aussies. Yes, he was brash and arrogant when he started, but he needed to be at that time, and he has matured into that leader of men that South African cricket so badly needed. You can't argue with his numbers, or the respect as a competitor that he now enjoys from the other top-ranked sides. Biff, I salute you buddy. One of the greats.

Posted by Praxis on (July 19, 2012, 7:39 GMT)

Smith has at least 3 very good batsmen & a sharp pace attack, he hasn't made the most of it. SA should've been the top team in tests for the 2 or 3 years.

Posted by duncanmoo on (July 19, 2012, 6:41 GMT)

Thanks for that, a well timed well founded, honest evaluation of Smith. Sometimes the hero playing with a broken hand, other times the villain not returning home with the team after the World Cup, but always honest. SA are behind you Smithy!

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 6:23 GMT)

For me, hero of this article is the author, Telford Vice. Fabulous writing! Of course, his unabashed and perhaps unbridled admiration for Graeme Smith has pushed him into hyperbole. A little beyond what is normally expected. But, well within acceptable limits, only because of his refreshing (but rarely seen now-a-days) writing style, and the subjects "style", or lack of it.

Posted by moBlue on (July 19, 2012, 6:22 GMT)

this statement above by a commenter cracked me up - the height of ridiculousness! "He [Smith] is alot more valuable to South African cricket than someone like Kallis but has never been acknowledged as such." Kallis, the greatest cricketer ever to walk the field, right alongside a certain Gary Sobers... and who?!? ha ha! :)

Posted by anver777 on (July 19, 2012, 5:19 GMT)

A great bat...wish Smith will celebrate his 100th test with a memorable century !!!

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 5:10 GMT)

Nice article...well not afraid to admit that I did not know Smith's stats are so spectacular...but then again the author went a bit far when he compared him with the other Greame who is well head and shoulder above him...may be one day Kallis and DeVillers can be compared with Pollock but Smith will never be in the same zone...not that it takes away anything from him .It just shows how good Pollock was

Posted by landl47 on (July 19, 2012, 3:33 GMT)

Smith was given the captaincy at age 22. There's no way in the world he was ready as a person to handle it, no matter how good he was as a cricketer. As a result, he made all the mistakes we all make when we're very young, only his were shown on TV. He should have been left to mature until he was, say, 27. My own opinion is that if SA had done that, they'd have got a better player and a much better captain when he did take over the role. Although he's had some success, SA hasn't reached a WC final, has only briefly been the #1 ranked test side and has won far fewer series that it should have done with the talent it has had available. This isn't Smith's fault; he's done his best and he's performed brilliantly at times. He just shouldn't have been made captain when he was. Incidentally, I think he will really struggle against Anderson in this series. If England holds its catches, I don't think he'll play a big part in SA's batting.

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 3:21 GMT)

respect to smithy for all his lofty achievements... But high quality swing bowling has always been a problem for him and i expect anderson ,broad and co to get on top of him..! Remember Zaheer dismissed smith for fun, the guy was absolutely clueless..! Anyways looking forward to some good competitive test match cricket...!

Posted by kh1902 on (July 19, 2012, 3:11 GMT)

As a South African fan, I have always felt that Smith is an underrated player. He is alot more valuable to South African cricket than someone like Kallis but has never been acknowledged as such. He has alot more character than Kallis and can score runs against strong opponents when the team really needs them, not just against India and Sri Lanka. Because Smith hasn't accumulated the stats, he doesn't get the recognition he deserves. South Africa beat England last time with Kallis contributing next to nothing with the bat while Smith scored. This shows who is really indispensable in SA's batting line-up.

However a captain is only as good as his team and he has been blessed with bowlers of the calibre of Steyn, Morkel and more recently Philander. Since bowlers are the architects of test cricket, any captain who has bowlers of that calibre at his disposal, will get results.

Posted by Simoc on (July 19, 2012, 2:33 GMT)

Great numbers and excellent opener. To conservative as captain I reckon and with that line-up of talent SA should have been number one for awhile. Makes for an excellent series.

Posted by wizard_2169 on (July 19, 2012, 1:16 GMT)

Well- Greame also has the advantage of having great cricketers in the team - the likes of Kallis, Amla, AB etc.. Personally not sure he uses the bowlers well - the test against England which was saved by their tail enders is an example. It could have very well been won by SA - if Smith had used spinners like Botha (who was getting a good turn in that innings ) - rather than continuing to persist with Harris- who was bowling at flat trajectory at the best. He is more of a dour and brave captain - rather than being innovative.

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 0:32 GMT)

If being pugnacious is what is perceived as being the major attribute to batting then obsentiously Smith would be crowned as the undisputed King of batting. However, his tendency to lead with his pad rather than his head will expectantly be his downfall against the skill of Anderson. Let the series commence!!!!

Posted by Chris_P on (July 18, 2012, 23:40 GMT)

This guy really whined when first confronted by the Aussie team after they really applied the blowtorch to him. Welcome to test cricket, Graham. But to be fair, he has really stood up & made a name for himself as a very tough uncompromising test batsman, a huge step from his formative series. He is tough, widely respected opponent nowadays. Easily someone you could have open the innings with confidence. Good luck, warrior.

Posted by GasPipe on (July 18, 2012, 22:30 GMT)

What an excellent article. I have always respected Smith as a captain and a batsman. I would rank him as one of the ugliest batters to watch, right up there with Daniel Vettori and Michael Hussey - but damn is he effective. More than effective, he is an imposing force at the crease who can batter attacks into submission. Great article, Mr. Telford!

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 22:19 GMT)

Nice article - thank you. Unfortunately the idiocies of the ECB mean a curtailed tour instead of the full 5 tests that South Africa deserves. I think this time that he won't suffer as he did with Hoggard's medium pacers which caught him in front so much last time round

Posted by Alexk400 on (July 18, 2012, 21:41 GMT)

Opening the inning is very difficult. He is decent captain. he had great team with great bowlers and batsman. He should have won more than what he has done. For me south africa as a country has self doubt. SA team has everything , Decent openers , great middle order , great bowlers , not good spinner , great fielding , decent captaincy. They must beat england. Can they? i doubt unless the imran tahir bowls well. If SA get rid of trott quickly SA will win. Steyn must bowl more balls to trott. Trott is like dravid , you do not want tired steyn bowling to trott. Pieterson will score his runs...but trott long stay in the crease allow england to score big runs. I think even stevens but i think engalnd can beat SA mainly because SA do not believe they are number 1 team. I do not see they have the body language of number 1 team.

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 21:26 GMT)

Smith is one of my role models. As an opening batsmen myself, trust me its not as easy as 123. People hate him because he cant put runs on the board, but try to find another opening batsmen that can do even half of what Smith has done for South Africa. You can't! As for his captaincy, he is easily the best captain RSA have ever had. He is always thinking about the game and uses his bowlers superbly and gets the very best out of them.

So for people to argue for his sacking is really astounding. Without him the South African team looks mediocre, he provides solidity and strength along with vast amounts of experience. Hence, its time people stop hating and begin appreciating.

Good luck, to Smith in the England tour. His definitely at his best in England and this series will be yet another one to prove how valuable he is.

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 20:50 GMT)

My word..its been ages since when i'd been assiduously looking for this. Unsurprisingly, it came good on two counts: first, coming from, as it does, the pen of Telford; second, the piece perfectly commensurates the complexity of being Greame Smith, who, in all probability, was yet to come to terms with his newly-born whisker. He was coronated as skipper of a team that had in its rank stalwarts like Kallis, Donald, Pollock. This yet another marvel from Telford understandably tries to place things in perspective without unnecessarily shouting from the rooftop as soon as it seems to touching upon Gream as a person. As he rightly explained, Smith deserves more respect for what he had done and for what he had been able to prevent from happening to the cricket world over, South Africa in particular. He obviously had little choice besides treading nonchalantly across his own way, through which he dared few,vanquished many, and pleased half as many as he irked. Kudos to him...

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 19:54 GMT)

Ok, so he did grow up in public eye and it wasn't easy. His comments in media were honest, but also stupid at times. And he certainly is one of the better skippers Proteas have had. His ability to withstand physical pain is immense. But as great a batsman as Graeme Pollock? .. Search in YouTube for Pollock's batting as a 60-something for an exhibition match in Australia and you'd know what the label 'great' should be reserved for. A very good batsman, sure - a great, not quite - as great as Graeme Pollock? you wish!

Posted by SurlyCynic on (July 18, 2012, 19:52 GMT)

If Smith were English he'd already have 3 knighthoods, 4 tattoos, 2 autobiographies and a reality TV show.

Posted by Tromperie on (July 18, 2012, 19:31 GMT)

There's no doubt that he's a very talented and belligerent batsman, but as a captain, I think he's really been rather mediocre.

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 18:09 GMT)

oh! such a long article .... didn't have patience to read full .... i guess something good is written ab out graeme smith ...

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 17:54 GMT)

I've always liked Smiffy. He seems to be quite a shy bloke - coming over quite badly and awkwardly in his early career, but blossoming later on. He seems a real sweetie underneath.

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 17:37 GMT)

An enjoyable piece. Congratulations to Smith on reaching 100 tests...highlights for me ? Australia in 2008 (scoring a 100 in the 2nd innings at Perth & walking out to bat with a broken hand), England 2008 (the unbeaten hundred at Edgbaston to win the series), England 2003 (those two innings to announce himself as a top class test opener) and a fine 'comeback' century against Australia last year to win that mad test at Cape Town. I'm full of admiration for his efforts and the way he goes about his cricket, which have been finely captured here by Telford Vice.

Posted by marlon17 on (July 18, 2012, 16:48 GMT)

One of the best cricketer in the world.. 2nd innings specialist..

Posted by Highflyer_GP on (July 18, 2012, 16:27 GMT)

Excellent piece. Certainly in terms of test matches, he deserves his due, both as captain and batsman.

Posted by JustOUT on (July 18, 2012, 16:22 GMT)

Smith is ofcos one of the most respected & skillful captain cum player in the current cricketing world. He has achieved lot of things(except WC) than other current captains in this world. His 4th innings specials are always up there as one of the great knocks and he never fails his team when he scores heavily. He is a great cricketer and will be remembered as a great. Btw, his introduction looks like some BOLLYWOOD STAR's introduction in the movies.. :)

Posted by phoenixsteve on (July 18, 2012, 16:18 GMT)

Smudger is a great player without doubt but with an unconventional technique. He doesn't play as straight as the coaches would like and has a huge preference for leg side scoring. England know this and with the UDRS in place he'll not escape quite so often as in the past. Add the other Graeme's fondness to bowling at southpaws (also a G.S.) and I predict a lean tour for the South African captain. I expect the scorecard to frequently read "Smith LBW Bowled Anderson" but it could allso read "Smith ct Prior/Anderson/Strauss bowled Broad/Finn" - either way he'll go cheaply! Hope so anyhow...... COME ON ENGLAND!!!

Posted by Selassie-I on (July 18, 2012, 16:09 GMT)

lovely article, well written. Enjoyed reading that sir.... roll on tomorrow!

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 16:05 GMT)

Smith has played a stellar role in winning series in England and Australia, also cuuple of drawn series in India which is again not easy, may be one thing he would like to add is a home series win against Australia, besides that a guy who has scored most runs in the 4th innings of a test match has little to do in terms of convincing the detractors of his talent.

Posted by Shafaet_001 on (July 18, 2012, 16:04 GMT)

Graeme smith is one of my most favorite persons. He is really an inspiring character. Who can forget his batting with broken hand in melbourne to draw a test after already winning the series? He always delivers his best when his team requires most,he is the master of 4th innings. To me he is one of the greatest sportsmen of all time.

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 15:50 GMT)

Graeme Smith --- Complete RESPECT and admiration!!

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (July 18, 2012, 15:48 GMT)

Greame is great player. I hope he achieve what he is looking for the #1 spot in test rankings.

Posted by StoneRose on (July 18, 2012, 15:35 GMT)

One of the most underrated cricketers and captains ever. Finished off Hussain and Vaughan comprehensively on the last 2 tours. I hope it's 3rd time lucky for England with this tour though.

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Telford ViceClose
Telford Vice Telford Vice, crash-boom-out left-hand bat, sort-of legspinner, was never sure whether he was a cricket person. He thought he might be when he sidestepped a broken laptop and an utter dearth of experience to cover South Africa's first Test match in 22 years in Barbados in 1992. When he managed to complete Peter Kirsten's biography as well as retain what he calls his sanity, he pondered the question again. Similarly, when he made it through the 2007 World Cup - all of it, including the warm-up matches - his case for belonging to cricket's family felt stronger. But it was only when the World Twenty20 exploded gloriously into his life in 2007 that he knew he actually wanted to be a cricket person. Sort of ...

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