Pakistan v South Africa, 2nd Test, Dubai, 4th day October 26, 2013

Smith lauds South Africa's 'immense' record

It took a little longer than appear likely at one stage, but South Africa's comfortably victory extends a formidable overseas sequence which vindicates their No. 1 status
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Before Graeme Smith went in for ankle surgery in May, the doctor gave him a worrying warning. "If this doesn't work, I don't know what I am going to do," he said to the South African captain.

Smith had suffered an ankle impingement in April last year, which ruled him out of the IPL, and had chronic ankle pain for a period of time before that. He had an operation last year before South Africa's tour of England but this year needed another - one he refers to as "major," - because the problem had not been entirely solved. The recent one, which meant he had cut short his first season with Surrey, involved putting two pins into his heel to correct a stress fracture and would keep him out of the game for six months, much longer than the ten weeks he had on the sidelines 2012.

"I had a lot of time to reflect on my career and I wondered if there would be more," he said. Smith didn't have to explain his fear that he thought there was a chance he may not take the field again because it was obvious from the pride he took in his own performance.

"I worked really hard to get to where I am now. To have come back and scored a double hundred in these conditions - almost sub-continental and with the heat - is something I will never forget. I am proud of it. I will cherish this innings for the rest of my life."

His 234 was the biggest individual difference between South Africa and Pakistan in Dubai and it was as much a personal achievement as it was a team feat. Without Smith's innings, a canvas painted by hard grind rather than attractive strokeplay, South Africa would not have had the platform from which it did not matter that their lower-order collapsed. Without his knock, they could have lost the match and their record run on the road could have ended.

Cricketers often claim numbers don't matter to them until they've called it a day but there are two that mean a great to deal to South Africa right now. The No.1 ranking is the first of them. They would not have lost it had they been defeated 2-0 in this series but their lead would have been substantially cut. Their unbeaten away streak since 2006 is the other because it explains, without needing to use too many words, why they are the top-ranked Test team.

South Africa have not won a series in the subcontinent, apart from victories in Bangladesh, since beating Pakistan in 2007 but they have drawn in India and now, in the UAE. That speaks about their ability to "find a way," as Smith likes to put it to win in conditions they are unaccustomed to and which are intended to work against them.

I don't think many teams in the current set-up can travel as well as we do and be able to perform in the different environments and under the different pressures. I don't think the team gets enough credit for that. It's an immense record
Graeme Smith on South Africa away from home

It illustrates what Smith and AB de Villiers' innings showed: how to construct scores on pitches which take turn, outfields which are slow and bowlers who know how to exploit the conditions with movement and spin. But on the fourth day of this match, it was their bowlers' ability which was highlighted.

Despite being kept in the field for much longer than they expected, the attack barely strayed from their plans. They were disciplined in length, using the short ball as a threat rather than a regulation delivery, and understanding the need to pitch it up. Even when Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq looked as though they would bat out the day, the bowlers did not panic and held their control.

Part-time left-arm spinner Dean Elgar took advantage of a lapse in concentration from Misbah and then South Africa knew it was just a matter of time. They finished Pakistan off before the end of the day to extend their record of adaptability to include the UAE.

"Once they got in and the ball got soft, it became difficult," Smith admitted. "We controlled the run-rate and they were never scoring at more than 2.5 to the over and we knew if we kept doing that, there was going to be one opportunity and Dean got that one opportunity."

They have now gone 12 series without being beaten away from home and Smith thinks that has the makings of the start of a legacy similar to the Australia and West India sides of old. "I don't want to be throwing that label around to the public just yet, I think we still have a long way to go but I don't think many teams in the current set-up can travel as well as we do and be able to perform in the different environments and under the different pressures," he said.

"I don't think the team gets enough credit for that. It's an immense record and we are very proud of it. We want to go on and win more series, dominate, we want to play good cricket set a standard and we are on the right path."

How South Africa have managed to win away from home is, according to Smith, down mostly to experience. "Part of playing away from home is finding a way to morph in those conditions," he said. "We have a great understanding of that and how to work our way into conditions."

That was why, unlike his surgeon, Smith never got to the point where he did not know what would work. At 1-0 down in the series, South Africa were confident of coming back. And despite Pakistan batting fluently with six wickets in hand, Smith had no doubt his bowlers would complete the job.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | October 30, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    @Keith Waters, yes I agree with that and who knows, in three or four years time, this side could rival the other two. Until then, it is premature simply because they haven't spent enough time at the top compared to the other two. Note though that I believe the rankings system does reward improved results compared to previous series. Therefore, South Africa will be rewarded handsomely if they win future series that they have drawn in the past. So that is when they can enjoy a long time at the top. They couldn't manage to better the result against Pakistan, but India and Australia await and series wins should make the gap between them and England wider.

  • POSTED BY on | October 30, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    @ BillyCC thats the point SA longest run without defeat is the one they are currently on there are only 3 teams who have ahcieved the same length or more than the current SA team so you can only compare them with where they are. Admittedly comparing them doesnt mean they are better but its not stupidity to compare with whats similar. There is still a long way to go untill they are considered great but to dismiss them so lightly when Team like the Windies drew four series on the trott (and 30% of their series in total) they didnt win in the subcontinent for 12 years but to expect SA to win more and to achieve something they didnt is unjustified

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | October 30, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    @Keith Waters, happy for you to bath in glory/denial. I'm only stating facts, there are no opinions (jealous or otherwise). In reality, I like this South African team and they could be something special. The facts though are these: they have only been number one for just over a year. I actually think the rankings have some flaws and they should have gotten their sooner but they rightly penalise drawn series. Being unbeaten is great, but they have paid the penalty for drawn series particularly at home. The other fact is that the Australians and the West Indies were on top of the rankings consistently over a period of 10 years and 15 years respectively. So the gap is quite compelling. Regarding my original numbers, if you wanted a span of 24 series, then sure you would be right. I was just commenting that they had a great run of 18 consecutive series. History will show they fell away after that but at the time, most said that it was a great side (Aussies were a little better that's all)

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | October 30, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    @Greatest_Game, agree with most of your analysis. We'll wait and see how AB progresses. Dismissals per innings will hide the fact that Flower played for a weaker bowling unit and Murali took a decent chunk of the wickets, and caught behind is not exactly a common dismissal for Murali and stumpings also not common.

  • POSTED BY on | October 30, 2013, 2:52 GMT

    Sorry BillyCC not sure what you mean the SA team from 1 Jan 1998 to 01 Jan 2004 played 24 series lost 5 drew 3 won 16 hardly a comparable record at all - there are only 4 teams with as many or more consequtive series without a loss than this current SA team - http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283960.html - The fact that you deny that this SA team had currently achieved what very few have shows your bias and yes The west indies and aussie teams may or may not be better, but all you can go on is the record and considering this SA teams record is only just behind theres is testamont to how good this saffa team is - like I have pointed out before the West Indies have not won in the sub continent since 1983/84 so to call their team great and this SA team not is blinkered to say the least. However, I really not bothered by what other teams have achieved and am happy to be a saffa fan everyone else can wallow in their own jealousy and I'll be happy bathing in our glory lol

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | October 29, 2013, 17:45 GMT

    @Keith Waters, actually the last team to have a comparable record to this South African team was the South African team from 1998 to 2003/04. 18 test series, 2 defeats (back-to-back series against Australia), 2 draws, but they did win in the subcontinent. That was a team with a young Kallis, Donald and Pollock as a bowling all rounder. It was a pretty good side, but the Australians had the better record. This South African side actually had the better series win ratio, but just happened to lose twice to the greatest or the second greatest team of all time. I would say people have rather short memories instead of nostalgia tainting judgment. As I said, when we judge the greatest, not being beaten only means something when you've won against those sides previously away from home. Until then, I would say the current side is a very good side, just as the 1998-2004 side was a very good side.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | October 29, 2013, 16:23 GMT

    The keeper-batsmen debate is tough: both batting AND keeping stats must be considered. Batting stats we all know. Keeping stats few even know exist!

    Stats for keepers are MD, or Most Dismissals in an innings , & D/I, or Dismissals per Innings. D/I is a keeper's ave: the ave no. of batsmen he dismissed per innings.

    Examples:

    Gilchrist: D/I - 2.178. MD - 5. Gilchrist: Bat ave - 46.70.

    AB dV - D/I - 2.033. MD - 6. AB dV - bat 51.55: bat ave AS KEEPER -56.17

    Kumar Sangakkara D/I - 1.6: MD - 5. Bat ave - 56.98: bat ave AS KEEPER - 40.48

    Gilly vs AN dV. Gilly gets 0.145 more dismissals per inns: AB gets 9.53 more runs. But, BEFORE the Pak series, AB's D/I was 2.115, & ave as keeper was 50.95! It takes a while to build a D/I & bat ave as keeper that are a true reflection of a career.

    AB needs another 30 tests for any real comparison. Till then, Gilly has the title. I have been through the records: Gilly & AB as KEEPERS & BATSMEN have records that surpass all the rest.

  • POSTED BY on | October 29, 2013, 13:31 GMT

    @BillyCC you are judging the West Indies team and Aussie team after they have finished there careers and people you are judging the SA team on how they are now and nostalgia is a very good tainter of judges

    However one important question that needs answering is currently SA are 13 series without Defeat they havent been beaten since 2008/2009 and have only lost one series since 2006 now if you can name the last two teams to have a record comparable/better to this you might understand why people are comparing this SA team to the great West Indies and Aussies teams of yesteryear. I'll give you a clue one comes from a group of islands in the Carribean and the other comes from an Island off the shores of New Zealand

  • POSTED BY Tumi_tlhomz on | October 29, 2013, 12:28 GMT

    Sorry for the mistake,nonetheless AB batting at 5 as a keeper in tests and averaging 56 in 16 tests is impeccable as he has established himself as one of the best batsman in the world while keeping,even in odi's. Yes Sanga batted at 3 while keeping but he also batted in batting friendly conditions while doing so and as you pointed out averaged 40. I agree that calling AB the grestest keeper batsman is premature but he's a very good keeper batsman considering he is a specialist .

  • POSTED BY 2nd_Slip on | October 29, 2013, 11:14 GMT

    @BillyCC -You clearly must be joking AB is a much better wk/batsmen than both Flower and Sanga (look at their records in both test and ODI cricket). If you had said Gilchrist only then would I have considered your comment to be of note.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | October 30, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    @Keith Waters, yes I agree with that and who knows, in three or four years time, this side could rival the other two. Until then, it is premature simply because they haven't spent enough time at the top compared to the other two. Note though that I believe the rankings system does reward improved results compared to previous series. Therefore, South Africa will be rewarded handsomely if they win future series that they have drawn in the past. So that is when they can enjoy a long time at the top. They couldn't manage to better the result against Pakistan, but India and Australia await and series wins should make the gap between them and England wider.

  • POSTED BY on | October 30, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    @ BillyCC thats the point SA longest run without defeat is the one they are currently on there are only 3 teams who have ahcieved the same length or more than the current SA team so you can only compare them with where they are. Admittedly comparing them doesnt mean they are better but its not stupidity to compare with whats similar. There is still a long way to go untill they are considered great but to dismiss them so lightly when Team like the Windies drew four series on the trott (and 30% of their series in total) they didnt win in the subcontinent for 12 years but to expect SA to win more and to achieve something they didnt is unjustified

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | October 30, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    @Keith Waters, happy for you to bath in glory/denial. I'm only stating facts, there are no opinions (jealous or otherwise). In reality, I like this South African team and they could be something special. The facts though are these: they have only been number one for just over a year. I actually think the rankings have some flaws and they should have gotten their sooner but they rightly penalise drawn series. Being unbeaten is great, but they have paid the penalty for drawn series particularly at home. The other fact is that the Australians and the West Indies were on top of the rankings consistently over a period of 10 years and 15 years respectively. So the gap is quite compelling. Regarding my original numbers, if you wanted a span of 24 series, then sure you would be right. I was just commenting that they had a great run of 18 consecutive series. History will show they fell away after that but at the time, most said that it was a great side (Aussies were a little better that's all)

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | October 30, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    @Greatest_Game, agree with most of your analysis. We'll wait and see how AB progresses. Dismissals per innings will hide the fact that Flower played for a weaker bowling unit and Murali took a decent chunk of the wickets, and caught behind is not exactly a common dismissal for Murali and stumpings also not common.

  • POSTED BY on | October 30, 2013, 2:52 GMT

    Sorry BillyCC not sure what you mean the SA team from 1 Jan 1998 to 01 Jan 2004 played 24 series lost 5 drew 3 won 16 hardly a comparable record at all - there are only 4 teams with as many or more consequtive series without a loss than this current SA team - http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283960.html - The fact that you deny that this SA team had currently achieved what very few have shows your bias and yes The west indies and aussie teams may or may not be better, but all you can go on is the record and considering this SA teams record is only just behind theres is testamont to how good this saffa team is - like I have pointed out before the West Indies have not won in the sub continent since 1983/84 so to call their team great and this SA team not is blinkered to say the least. However, I really not bothered by what other teams have achieved and am happy to be a saffa fan everyone else can wallow in their own jealousy and I'll be happy bathing in our glory lol

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | October 29, 2013, 17:45 GMT

    @Keith Waters, actually the last team to have a comparable record to this South African team was the South African team from 1998 to 2003/04. 18 test series, 2 defeats (back-to-back series against Australia), 2 draws, but they did win in the subcontinent. That was a team with a young Kallis, Donald and Pollock as a bowling all rounder. It was a pretty good side, but the Australians had the better record. This South African side actually had the better series win ratio, but just happened to lose twice to the greatest or the second greatest team of all time. I would say people have rather short memories instead of nostalgia tainting judgment. As I said, when we judge the greatest, not being beaten only means something when you've won against those sides previously away from home. Until then, I would say the current side is a very good side, just as the 1998-2004 side was a very good side.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | October 29, 2013, 16:23 GMT

    The keeper-batsmen debate is tough: both batting AND keeping stats must be considered. Batting stats we all know. Keeping stats few even know exist!

    Stats for keepers are MD, or Most Dismissals in an innings , & D/I, or Dismissals per Innings. D/I is a keeper's ave: the ave no. of batsmen he dismissed per innings.

    Examples:

    Gilchrist: D/I - 2.178. MD - 5. Gilchrist: Bat ave - 46.70.

    AB dV - D/I - 2.033. MD - 6. AB dV - bat 51.55: bat ave AS KEEPER -56.17

    Kumar Sangakkara D/I - 1.6: MD - 5. Bat ave - 56.98: bat ave AS KEEPER - 40.48

    Gilly vs AN dV. Gilly gets 0.145 more dismissals per inns: AB gets 9.53 more runs. But, BEFORE the Pak series, AB's D/I was 2.115, & ave as keeper was 50.95! It takes a while to build a D/I & bat ave as keeper that are a true reflection of a career.

    AB needs another 30 tests for any real comparison. Till then, Gilly has the title. I have been through the records: Gilly & AB as KEEPERS & BATSMEN have records that surpass all the rest.

  • POSTED BY on | October 29, 2013, 13:31 GMT

    @BillyCC you are judging the West Indies team and Aussie team after they have finished there careers and people you are judging the SA team on how they are now and nostalgia is a very good tainter of judges

    However one important question that needs answering is currently SA are 13 series without Defeat they havent been beaten since 2008/2009 and have only lost one series since 2006 now if you can name the last two teams to have a record comparable/better to this you might understand why people are comparing this SA team to the great West Indies and Aussies teams of yesteryear. I'll give you a clue one comes from a group of islands in the Carribean and the other comes from an Island off the shores of New Zealand

  • POSTED BY Tumi_tlhomz on | October 29, 2013, 12:28 GMT

    Sorry for the mistake,nonetheless AB batting at 5 as a keeper in tests and averaging 56 in 16 tests is impeccable as he has established himself as one of the best batsman in the world while keeping,even in odi's. Yes Sanga batted at 3 while keeping but he also batted in batting friendly conditions while doing so and as you pointed out averaged 40. I agree that calling AB the grestest keeper batsman is premature but he's a very good keeper batsman considering he is a specialist .

  • POSTED BY 2nd_Slip on | October 29, 2013, 11:14 GMT

    @BillyCC -You clearly must be joking AB is a much better wk/batsmen than both Flower and Sanga (look at their records in both test and ODI cricket). If you had said Gilchrist only then would I have considered your comment to be of note.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | October 29, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    @Tumi_tlhomz, please check the facts before you comment. AB averages 56 as keeper, not 70. He's played 16 tests as keeper, Sangakkara has kept in many more Test matches than AB and batted higher at No.3 and averaged 40. We'll see how AB goes in the next 30 tests. He's a very good player, but greatest wicketkeeper batsman ever as someone suggested? I don't think so. He's got a lot more candidates above him!

  • POSTED BY Tumi_tlhomz on | October 29, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    @ Billy CC,Sangakkara has long stopped keeping in tests what are you on about? AB has been averaging over 70 since taking the gloves in tests and in odi's his stats are just as remarkable.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | October 29, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    @Greatest Game, Gilly not the best wicketkeeper batsman ever? AB? What world are you living in? Add the word makeshift with regards to AB and even then you would have no case because Sangakkara and Andy Flower would take the mantle. It's arguable whether the Windies team of the 1980s would beat the Aussie team of the 1990s. Depends on where they play (flat, spinny pitches, the Windies would get trounced and probably the reverse on bouncy quick wickets). But no matter how you slice and dice it, this South African team would be beaten by both convincingly. The West Indies had three of the greatest quicks of all time and a fourth very decent quick. Australia had one of the greatest spin bowlers of all time and one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time. Right now, South Africa have one of the greatest quicks and one potential. Had Kallis been 10 years younger, maybe, but then Philander and Steyn wouldn't have been playing yet.

  • POSTED BY Amol_Gh on | October 29, 2013, 6:50 GMT

    Yes..going by the stats, De Villiers is going to be better than Gilly by the time he ends his Test Career, no doubt. And it gets to me when people easily use the phrase "the best spinner ever..." for today's bowlers especially ...when Warne, Kumble and Murali retired not too many years ago...

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | October 29, 2013, 6:01 GMT

    @ Cpt.Meanster who believes that SA is "Not a great team by any means but a fine team in test cricket. Mediocre in ODIs and T20s especially away from home."

    SA & AUS have, by miles, the best win/loss percentage in ODIs. The rest are specs in their rear view mirrors. India barely manages a positive W/L ratio!

    At least check the records before posting rubbish

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | October 29, 2013, 5:51 GMT

    @ Kurt Sackel This article is about the current South African test team, not about an imaginary team residing somewhere in your sad old dreams. SWake up - this is 2013. Austrtalia are history, and we are not talking history, we are talking now!

    And a few quick points: Gilly is not probably the best wicketkeeper batsman ever! Maybe - but first we need to see the rest of AB's career. Right now his batting ave is decidedly better than Gilly, tho Gilly leads slightly in dismissals per innings.

    The greatest (modern) bowlers ever? Murali has to be one - best spinner ever., And it is a toss up between the West Indies greats as to the other.

    West Indies in their pomp would have slaughtered Aus ……. actually, they did, regularly, relentlessly, every time. I meant to sat they would have slaughtered the best modern side Aus could put together.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | October 29, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    I just took a quick look at the ICC players rankings. I wonder if it has ever happened before that any team has fielded the 2 highest ranked test batsmen AND the 2 highest ranked test bowlers. (And, the same batsmen are the 2 highest ranked ODI batsmen.) I'll wager that this is the first time.

    Now, anyone seeing that would probably think "hey - I bet they must be the best test team in the world, as they have the 2 best batsmen, and the 2 best bowlers." It really does make sense, does it not?

  • POSTED BY 2nd_Slip on | October 28, 2013, 18:13 GMT

    Like it or not this SA side is the best in world cricket today end of story.

  • POSTED BY NixNixon on | October 28, 2013, 17:14 GMT

    @Kurt Sackel, please click on the link to find to your "surprise" a test match Australia have lost against SA http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63980.html

    While they did win the serious, this proves people like you wrong saying that the "great" aus and wi sides never lost. They lost plenty of times. Its kinda irritating when people like you keep on saying that SA is not a great side because Aus never lost. Aus and Wi were not invincible and its unfair to say SA have to be to be considered a great side. Let me tell you something if they do manage to reach your criteria they will be a better side than both aus and wi. Also WI were beter than Aus. And now well aus is ..... same..

  • POSTED BY MK88 on | October 28, 2013, 13:32 GMT

    We South Africans will enjoy our stay as world's top test nation, and leave comparisons to WI of old and Aus of 2000s to journos and statisticians. I find it weird that people make comparisons of that nature...When WI of old played, some people here were not yet born.

    Hint: England away: Beaten, Aus away: Beaten, NZ away: Beaten. Sri Lanka and Pak at home: Beaten. And now a draw at UAE.

    SA is the best NOW!!! Give them credit NOW, instead of discrediting them for not being like old WI and AUS.

  • POSTED BY Jimbroh_1 on | October 28, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    It is amazing to see people scrutinising the poor home record in tests for SA yet there are individuals who still believe our fast bowlers are only good at bowling in bouncy pitches at home (where they lose)...

  • POSTED BY on | October 28, 2013, 10:44 GMT

    The Australian side won everywhere. Sri lanka 3-0; Pakistan*UAE 3-0; India 2-1; SA 3-0; We won everywhere and won big everywhere. huge difference in the sides. Much better than the west indies team. this was the greatest team ever. 2 of the greatest bowlers ever and a number of really good batters. and probably the best keeper batsmen ever and a great captain. No side to date can match that fire power. not to mention there was a lot of depth: McGill, law, lehmann etc

  • POSTED BY on | October 28, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    Could also then play another batsman at 7 in place of Kallis, keeping the 7 batsman and 5 bowlers balance.

  • POSTED BY on | October 28, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    @NixNixon: I think both Alviro and Faf can be given another series to find form. I wouldn't panic just yet. Although I agree that Elgar is next in line to open the batting. And my plan for when Kallis eventually retires? Drop the specialist spinner, play Duminy as our frontline spinner and number 3 batsman, and move Amla down to 4. Most great number 3 batsmen move down to number 4 eventually, anyway (Tendulkar, Ponting, Kallis, etc.). This will allow us to play an extra seamer in place of the spinner, keeping our attack's balance with 4 seamers and a spinner.

  • POSTED BY on | October 28, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    @NixNixon - good points not sure Dean elgar is the right option as opener what about Smuts? either way a decent opener to pair with smith is a good idea, yeah faf is certainly under some pressure but you can afford to give him another series though.

    Think De Villiers will move up to 4 and De Cock will take the Keepers place.

    Also think Parnell would be a great option as an all rounder.

    And finally we did once produce a Mr Hugh Tayfiled who was a quality spinner so you never know :)

  • POSTED BY MK88 on | October 28, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    @Lord_Buddha

    Please quit it with the world cup story. ODI is not the premier format of cricket, test cricket is. The fact that SA has not won the world cup means nothing to the achievements and strength of our test team. The article doesn't even mention ODI cricket. Twelve series without being beaten away (whooping Eng and Aus)...magnificent. Way to go Proteas!!

  • POSTED BY NixNixon on | October 28, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    This is what I feel SA need to do to further improve:

    1. Select a young opening batsmen, in place of Alviro (sorry Alviro), to ensure continuity when Smith retires one day. This will allow him to learn from an experienced player like Smith. For me this will be D Elgar, this guy is a massive talent.

    2. Get a all-rounder to establish himself in the number 7 spot. I personally would go with Ryan McLaren, his batting ability is better than what he is given credit for, he smacked two 70 odd scores now in the domestic competition and he bowls decent. This will allow us to minimise the blow of losing Kallis, although we are still winning without him contributing.

    3. Identify someone now who will be groomed to slot into the 4 spot, Kallis won't be around for much longer, and its important that we groom someone now. Also someone young.

    4. Drop faf.

    5. we will probably never have a good spinner so I'm not even going there.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | October 28, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    @NixNixon, if you had really been reading my responses, you would know my point is that people are stupidly comparing this South African side to the great Windies and Australian sides of the past 30 years. No jealousy there, it's just factually incorrect on a number of measures. I have no problem with South Africa being the No.1 ranked side now. In fact, I think they probably should have been on top sooner had it not been for some quirks on the ranking system. On balance, they have had stronger results compared to England and India.

  • POSTED BY NixNixon on | October 28, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    @BillyCC, mate reading your arguments in response to the evidence provided shows me that you dont even know yourself what you mean. You are just trying to find reasons why SA is not a No1 team. Jealousy makes you nasty!

  • POSTED BY king_julien on | October 28, 2013, 7:48 GMT

    I for one always believe that if a team is number one for substantial amount of time they are the best side at the current moment, little swings here and there not withstanding. I maintain this when SA is no 1 and I maintained this when India was no 1, (unlike some people who appreciate or condemn the same rankings based on their favorite teams performance)

    But South Africa is far from being a great team yet and I doubt they will be one, but they are a well balanced team have it in them to remain at the top for some time. Their sub continent record is not good in the last decade. They have played 8 series in last decade with India/Pakistan/SL, they have won one drawn 3 and lost 4, infact they performed better in Asia in the 90s. Also they prefer to play only 2 match series in Subcontinent, having played just one 3 match series there in last decade, but all series in SA are 3 match series. Being the no 1 team, they should have the confidence to play 3 match series everywhere.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | October 28, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    @Keith Waters, point being, South Africa need to win one first against the teams mentioned just as the Windies and Australia did. Until then, you haven't got a case. The reason why South Africa have only been number one for a year, rather than for seven, is because of all those drawn series.

  • POSTED BY Tumi_tlhomz on | October 28, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    The Proteas are a an excellent side and well balanced. Smith,Amla,Kallis,AB,Steyn,Philander are all great players. Unlike all the other teams in the world we are capable of winning matches abroad. Why do people go on as if all the teams were great during australia's dominance. South Africa wasn't a great side then and neither was england who call this generation their golden one. As mentioned earlier the west indies didn't win series in the sub continent during their reign so what is hoo ha about?

  • POSTED BY heathrf1974 on | October 28, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    @Robert Roemer I understand what you mean but there was little competition for Australia or the West Indies as well during there times of domination. Except Australia did have India at home and South Africa to complete with and for West Indies playing Pakistan at home.

  • POSTED BY on | October 28, 2013, 4:04 GMT

    It is not only inappropriate but also insulting to write an article which does not count Bangladesh. No matter how bad they are they are a test nation. Bangladesh generate more revenues than SA generates from their match. As far as the skill goes look at BD's schedule. If you don't play cricket then how could they improve. Instead of being a bully in cricket, top team can contribute to the minnows.

  • POSTED BY twomarktwo on | October 28, 2013, 3:01 GMT

    Only West Indies have had a greater Test team, will be tough for these guys to surpass them.

  • POSTED BY CherryWood_Champion on | October 28, 2013, 1:29 GMT

    @ Nicholas Brunger ... could`nt agree with you more. Chill folks .. relax and enjoy cricket. Why compare people and teams of different eras. Cherish the great memories of the past and Live in the present and ofcourse look towards the future ... Smith, Ab De, Asad, Kohli, Pujara, Trott, Cook, Clarke, Steyn, Jimmy, Pattinson, Irfan, Umesh .. and so many more from Windies, SriLanka, Bangla .... Would be interesting to see how Afganistan would shape up ... I do see a bright future for them .. atleast in cricket.

  • POSTED BY on | October 28, 2013, 1:03 GMT

    Overview:

    Gone past the days when a tests lasted twelve days without a result ( I think England V South Africa), it seems cricket post war has been stuggling to define a new form to find its place in a busy world today. Has ODI between a good mix, but then to even move on to the concept of 20/20 - a rediculas version to match baseball - but left with differentiating views as cricket has become a commercial enterprise. Oldtimers, particularly those, who have played and remember the game in its true bearing will never find an answer if at all left with acedemic curosity as to the over direction the game has taken. Simply put, as people have been addicted to this sport far beyond its due, let it be played through its different formats and enjoy. As to the controversies, they always sell today, and ofcourse selling means more mone. Any good! Ha ha,ha......please float where concerned.

  • POSTED BY on | October 27, 2013, 23:39 GMT

    @BillyCC here is the most amount of series without defeat 1980 - 1995 - http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283960.html and as you can see West Indies drew 9 out of 29 or 30% and went over 10 years without winning a series in the sub-continent (all draws) so really it is very similar to what SA has achieved - in fact since 1983 West Indies havent won a series in the sub-continent (excl Bangladesh) so whats that about 30 years without winning there? - http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;filter=advanced;home_or_away=2;opposition=6;opposition=7;opposition=8;orderby=start;team=4;template=results;type=team;view=series

  • POSTED BY Hardy1 on | October 27, 2013, 23:08 GMT

    Comparisons between eras probably aren't a clever idea in the first place & it's got to be kept in mind that this South Africa team hasn't even been no.1 for that long yet - India were no.1 for longer than they've been so far and no one's talking about that team's legacy so let's not get ahead of ourselves, especially when we do silly things like compare them to the Australian team that crushed everyone so emphatically - not just drawing series, but winning them. And not just winning them, but winning them by massive margins & winning individual matches by massive margins too. Having said that South Africa are a top side, although Kallis' not too far off retirement will give them a thing or two to think about.

  • POSTED BY on | October 27, 2013, 21:17 GMT

    " a canvas painted by hard grind rather than attractive strokeplay." I'm getting tired of the negative comments regarding Graeme Smith's batting. 9000+ runs at almost 50 with 5 double hundreds says he's the best opening batsman in the world and the most successful captain. Leave him alone. I would rather watch him bat than Kallis.

  • POSTED BY Brahams on | October 27, 2013, 20:46 GMT

    @theCricketPurist

    Not sure what you mean - Word cup is THE premier trophy in cricket - Great teams of yester years - Windies and Aussies - won it with ease. SA is not there yet....

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | October 27, 2013, 17:01 GMT

    @Keith Waters, no, I'm talking about the Windies team of 1980-1995 which actually won in test series in New Zealand, Pakistan and India away from home and also ended up not losing for more than 15 years, which is kinda not like South Africa so I'm not sure what you're referring to.

  • POSTED BY sachin_vvsfan on | October 27, 2013, 16:54 GMT

    If you are num 1 team you will be haunted by fans all over the world and ridiculed for any defeat. This has happened to India, Eng and now SA . But I think SA is not as scrutinized as other teams.They have we balanced team composition.

    @Ragav999 Interesting question. I am also curious to know when was the last time SA clean swept Eng/Aus/India home or away. I think it must be before 2006. But i think other teams have the record of white washing 4-0 at home which SA failed to do so in 3 test series.

  • POSTED BY Ragav999 on | October 27, 2013, 15:37 GMT

    @RyanStephen: What was the no. of times SA won two or more tests consecutively either at home/away in the last 10 years? What is the success ratio overall of this team? I would wager it ranks much lower than the Australian team of 2000's. They are winning the series by drawing few and winning one more than opposition.They even went through a phase where they could not beat Ind, Aus or Eng in test series in SA. Why should we ignore their comparatively poor home record just because they have done well abroad?

  • POSTED BY on | October 27, 2013, 15:11 GMT

    @BillyCC I assume you are talking of West Indies between 1980-1995 where they went about 29 series without losing? in that time they drew 9 which included draws in New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka they didnt win series everywhere they went they just didn't lose, kinda like SA

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | October 27, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    Can't believe some people are comparing this team to the great sides of the past eras. Note: This team has not won anything in the subcontinent and that is going on six years (Bangladesh does not count). To be the best, you have to win, not just draw. The Australians and the West Indies won in all conditions. @RyanStephen, the longest undefeated record away for the Windies was more than 15 years. But the Windies beat everyone home and away during that period of 15 years. We'll see how this South African side goes over the next 8 years.

  • POSTED BY on | October 27, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    *Sigh, can't we just enjoy good teams playing good cricket? Why do we always have to compare who is "the greatest of all time" when the game is developing over the years? How can we compare SA now to WI back in their golden years. Like comparing SRT to Sir Don Bradman, the game has developed in that time.

    SA now are an excellent team, as were Aus in the 90s and 2000s, as were WI in 70s and 80s. Who's the greatest of all? Who cares. Although to say SA are at the top because of no competition due to lack of decent bowling is absolute nonsense

  • POSTED BY lukiboy on | October 27, 2013, 1:46 GMT

    @Robert Roemer, who exactly is a plodder in this team??? In Smith (statistically one of the best openers of all time), Amla (how can you even criticise, i would say best no. 3 in the last 20 years, yes better than Ponting), Kallis (best all rounder since sobers) and de Villiers (whilst everyone says he is just a part time keeper, i dont remember him dropping a catch) you have one of the best top 5 in est history Steyn has been the no. 1 bowler in the world in the last 5 years, Philander is unplayable in the right conditions (and in the wrong conditions he still keeps it tight) and Morkel is very good bowle... where are these plodders???????

  • POSTED BY david44 on | October 27, 2013, 0:43 GMT

    Gym of an inning from the captain, i think the stumping of him in the first match made him play very responsibly and maturely i would rather say Pakistan lost this match then SA won it,

  • POSTED BY theCricketPurist on | October 26, 2013, 23:36 GMT

    This is indeed a great record, especially because of the amout of cricket played these days. Another point to note is the competition level between the eras. When the Windies ruled cricket, most other teams were still finding their feet, and Australia dominated because their excellence coincided with mediocre performance levels of other teams. Today, there are at least 4 teams that threaten South Africa. So a comparison between different eras is invalid.

    @ Cpt.Meanster : World Cup NEVER was the most prestigious prize in cricket. The true form of cricket is Test cricket and the test championship (best test team) is, without doubt, the most prestigious prize. ODI and T20 cannot even be compared to Test cricket.

  • POSTED BY on | October 26, 2013, 22:44 GMT

    they are d best.... best ever.

  • POSTED BY on | October 26, 2013, 21:27 GMT

    Morkel took one wicket in this series, and he has to be one of the worst players of spin in the world. Du Plessis and Duminy continue to disappoint in the middle order. With Kallis aging, SA needs to blood the next generation. Still huge guts from Smith AB and Steyn, a wonderful comeback by Tahir. As for Pakistan, the talent's always there but they'll always have a dysfunctional environment. They seemed to be playing to an almost totally empty stadium in an artifical cricketing "nation"

  • POSTED BY Cpt.Meanster on | October 26, 2013, 21:25 GMT

    Not a great team by any means but a fine team in test cricket. Mediocre in ODIs and T20s especially away from home. Chokers in ICC tournaments for the most part as well. Out of 10, I give SA 7 as a combined score in all 3 formats. Lots of work to be done still. The world cup is still the MOST prestigious prize in cricket and SA haven't won it yet. That' something what the great WI and AUS teams did. They were the best in test cricket and also won world championships.

  • POSTED BY on | October 26, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    well played by them. A good comeback from 1st test when they were left behind on all days. they bowled well in 1st innings. took full advantage of some poor paksitan batting. Getting a team out on 99 on this kind of wicket after losing 1st test is a remarkable. That is what Top teams do. Tahir's inclusion proved so vital & match winning.

    Then the best thing was their batting. They batted beautifully lost only 2 wickets to catch up to pak's 99. Smith came in to form at the right time. and showed that he should be named with other greats of games. That was a fighting innings. ABD got 2 let offs but he made them count, never gave up and scored bi 100 in a big partnership. scoring freely and punished paksitan. Taking game away from Paksitan.

    SA a no1 team could have only satisfied with series win but after the 1st test match 1-1 is not that bad for them. their record of not loosing away intact. They surely look to stay much longer at no 1 position.

  • POSTED BY on | October 26, 2013, 19:33 GMT

    India have a poor bowling unit, even if they add the old warhorse Zaheer Khan. I think they will struggle in SA because of their bowling only

  • POSTED BY PrasPunter on | October 26, 2013, 19:30 GMT

    Fantastic from SA !!! After WI and Aus, the most deserving of all to be the leader of the pack.

  • POSTED BY RyanStephen on | October 26, 2013, 19:16 GMT

    "but to be honest there is hardly any competition for them at the moment"

    They actually have more compettition than the Windies team, where Windies wasn't playing against SA.

    Then same amount of compettition as the Aus team.

    "And losing to Pakistan??" Like England losing 3-0 while everyone spoke of their greatness as a #1 team? These condiitons are highly favourable to Pakistan, as proven in previous series' against other countries.

    How do you know there is no decent bowling? Don't say it's because bowling averages have gone up as that simply indicates conditions are increasingly favouring the batsmen, or dare I say, batting has improved??

    Lastly SA is achieving far more frequent innings victories than the Great Windies and Aus teams, add that to 7 years undefeated away record which is still going.

    I'd like to know what was the longest undefeated record away from home for Windies/Aus?

    You are from Aus aren't you? Rather argue with stats and facts than opinions.

  • POSTED BY MCC_Tie on | October 26, 2013, 18:56 GMT

    Fantastic achievement by SA and shows just why they are number one in the world. The India 'series' should be a cracker!

  • POSTED BY on | October 26, 2013, 18:26 GMT

    They do have the makings of a decent team, but to be honest there is hardly any competition for them at the moment. And losing to Pakistan?? You don't want to be flouting your name amidst the greats Aus and WI teams with performances like that, that's for sure. But they do have to foundations of a very good side. Not a great one, but certainly very good. Too many plodders in their team, accumulator-sorts that would be found out with decent bowling opposition... which at present there unfortunately really is none.

  • POSTED BY on | October 26, 2013, 18:14 GMT

    congratulation smith - all the best for future

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  • POSTED BY on | October 26, 2013, 18:14 GMT

    congratulation smith - all the best for future

  • POSTED BY on | October 26, 2013, 18:26 GMT

    They do have the makings of a decent team, but to be honest there is hardly any competition for them at the moment. And losing to Pakistan?? You don't want to be flouting your name amidst the greats Aus and WI teams with performances like that, that's for sure. But they do have to foundations of a very good side. Not a great one, but certainly very good. Too many plodders in their team, accumulator-sorts that would be found out with decent bowling opposition... which at present there unfortunately really is none.

  • POSTED BY MCC_Tie on | October 26, 2013, 18:56 GMT

    Fantastic achievement by SA and shows just why they are number one in the world. The India 'series' should be a cracker!

  • POSTED BY RyanStephen on | October 26, 2013, 19:16 GMT

    "but to be honest there is hardly any competition for them at the moment"

    They actually have more compettition than the Windies team, where Windies wasn't playing against SA.

    Then same amount of compettition as the Aus team.

    "And losing to Pakistan??" Like England losing 3-0 while everyone spoke of their greatness as a #1 team? These condiitons are highly favourable to Pakistan, as proven in previous series' against other countries.

    How do you know there is no decent bowling? Don't say it's because bowling averages have gone up as that simply indicates conditions are increasingly favouring the batsmen, or dare I say, batting has improved??

    Lastly SA is achieving far more frequent innings victories than the Great Windies and Aus teams, add that to 7 years undefeated away record which is still going.

    I'd like to know what was the longest undefeated record away from home for Windies/Aus?

    You are from Aus aren't you? Rather argue with stats and facts than opinions.

  • POSTED BY PrasPunter on | October 26, 2013, 19:30 GMT

    Fantastic from SA !!! After WI and Aus, the most deserving of all to be the leader of the pack.

  • POSTED BY on | October 26, 2013, 19:33 GMT

    India have a poor bowling unit, even if they add the old warhorse Zaheer Khan. I think they will struggle in SA because of their bowling only

  • POSTED BY on | October 26, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    well played by them. A good comeback from 1st test when they were left behind on all days. they bowled well in 1st innings. took full advantage of some poor paksitan batting. Getting a team out on 99 on this kind of wicket after losing 1st test is a remarkable. That is what Top teams do. Tahir's inclusion proved so vital & match winning.

    Then the best thing was their batting. They batted beautifully lost only 2 wickets to catch up to pak's 99. Smith came in to form at the right time. and showed that he should be named with other greats of games. That was a fighting innings. ABD got 2 let offs but he made them count, never gave up and scored bi 100 in a big partnership. scoring freely and punished paksitan. Taking game away from Paksitan.

    SA a no1 team could have only satisfied with series win but after the 1st test match 1-1 is not that bad for them. their record of not loosing away intact. They surely look to stay much longer at no 1 position.

  • POSTED BY Cpt.Meanster on | October 26, 2013, 21:25 GMT

    Not a great team by any means but a fine team in test cricket. Mediocre in ODIs and T20s especially away from home. Chokers in ICC tournaments for the most part as well. Out of 10, I give SA 7 as a combined score in all 3 formats. Lots of work to be done still. The world cup is still the MOST prestigious prize in cricket and SA haven't won it yet. That' something what the great WI and AUS teams did. They were the best in test cricket and also won world championships.

  • POSTED BY on | October 26, 2013, 21:27 GMT

    Morkel took one wicket in this series, and he has to be one of the worst players of spin in the world. Du Plessis and Duminy continue to disappoint in the middle order. With Kallis aging, SA needs to blood the next generation. Still huge guts from Smith AB and Steyn, a wonderful comeback by Tahir. As for Pakistan, the talent's always there but they'll always have a dysfunctional environment. They seemed to be playing to an almost totally empty stadium in an artifical cricketing "nation"

  • POSTED BY on | October 26, 2013, 22:44 GMT

    they are d best.... best ever.