South Africa v England, 2nd Test, Cape Town January 2, 2016

Smith still pondering greater SA role


Graeme Smith chats with Hashim Amla during South Africa's net session © Gallo Images

Graeme Smith has confirmed that his role with the South Africa squad is on an ad-hoc basis although added that he was pondering further involvement having been asked to help

Smith spent New Year's Day at South Africa's net session ahead of the second Test against England where he worked with the batsmen and Hashim Amla, South Africa's captain, said although he wasn't aware of the details of the agreement, he understood Smith would be with them, "for the rest of the series." But with commentary commitments to Test Match Special and host broadcaster SuperSport, Smith clarified that there was no official agreements as yet.

"There has been a request to join up with the guys and help a little bit. I am considering it, but I had made commitments before the start of this series that it's important to stick to," he said during commentary on the first morning. "Obviously my heart will always be with the Proteas and I want to see them as successful as possible, if I can add value. But it's got to work itself out, it's not a role that's been committed to yet."

But Smith and Amla are on the same page about what's ailing the South African line-up and they agree that it's lack of confidence. Both the former captain and the current one have spoken about the need for an injection of self-belief to break the streak of seven Tests without a win.

"Naturally they're a bit uncertain I would guess," Smith said. "The challenge when you're short of runs and confidence is that you become a very internal person. You almost go into self-preservation mode, you can spend hours in your hotel room thinking about it.

"Sometimes you can get out of it by helping your teammates and share the load. I had a few chats with the guys and you can feel there's a real hunger to be successful."

Smith also spent time with Amla discussing the challenges of leading, both with the bat and on the field. "I had quite a nice chat with Hash about his gameplans with the captaincy, and how he is managing all the new information that's coming into his head," he said. "We spoke a lot in Durban of just managing that space, when you're under pressure with things coming at you from all over the park. As a batter you have to clear your head out. He's got to find his way, his routine to get that all out of his head so he can focus on scoring runs."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sharad on January 3, 2016, 23:55 GMT

    @Nagena, Don't you think more responsibility on AB would probably backfire like it did with his keeping? Right now RSA need AB the batter to fire on all cylinders, not necessarily a change in leadership. There's been no real evidence that Amla's captaincy was bad, he's doing his best with the resources he is given and he'll certainly get better at it. Also, AB didn't come across as an outstanding captain during the World Cup, he was probably only ordinary.

  • diren on January 3, 2016, 20:46 GMT

    I always knew how important Smith was to SA. Their rise to the top was due to Smith's leadership. He might not have been a good tactician on the field but his people's skills and mentoring of junior players along with his courage and determination were what made him a cricketing legend....SA's dark knight.

  • Subramani on January 3, 2016, 14:41 GMT

    Graeme Smith's thoughts are spot on, Not just in cricket but wh en you are having problem in anything in life, if you do not talk about it to someone you respect and trust, you will only go deeper into the mire. That is what happens when you suffer from lack of self belief, On the other side we have Viru Sehwag who was a great batsman who could destroy any bowling on any kind of wicket.He was so strong in self belief even when he was failing that it prevented him from talking to someone he trusted. He probably never felt it was necessary because he was so strong in self belief.To my mind he would have got out of that bad phase if he had only talked to someone like some friend of his who knew his cricket.He did not and that is why India lost a truly great bat. The point I am on is that it is necessary for a player having sme problems to talk to someone. Thinking about your failures can only create problems galore in your mind and lead to self doubt.

  • John on January 3, 2016, 13:55 GMT

    If South Africa's appointment of ex Captain Smith is to strengthen Amla's position as skipper more than anything else, it could be useful. Amla, a real gentleman and prolific batsman, has not, if we are to be brutally honest, been a great captain. He is not a thrusting enough or born leader. Indeed he has cut a forlorn figure on the field, as England have brutally annihilated the host country. Smith was himself made captain before his mid-twenties and at once made a forceful mark. He'll try to tutor Amla in the intricacies of captaincy: whether Amla will easily respond (in view of his reticent and withdrawn nature) remains to be seen. The obvious alternative leader is clearly de Villiers, although his fault might lie in the reverse direction. He can sometimes act hastily in the heat of the moment. There, Smith would use other approaches, taming, without destroying, de Villiers' exuberance. You can't fail thinking the latter case might prove the more profitable!

  • Cricinfouser on January 3, 2016, 12:42 GMT

    Smith should save his reputation and stay away from this team. Steyn and Ab should retain their pride and retire from tests. Faf and Duminy should be recalled they deserve to play for THIS protea side

  • anthony on January 3, 2016, 11:49 GMT

    Well the short term solutions are easy ...smith comes back as an opener and SA manage to get steyn,morkel and philander on the pitch together and injury free while retaining Amla and AB DV. On the other hand if smith stays retired,ABDV defects to t20 and the rest continue to fail .....with the big 3 dominating on and off the pitch we could see a windies style decline in SA .right now i would say SA are in the same place windies were in in 1995

  • Julian on January 3, 2016, 6:14 GMT

    I say fix the rot from the top... get rid of the management team... bring in new head coach and bowling coach ... a new batting consultant and spin consultant ... leave this nonense of how many players of colour in the team as there are enough good players of colour that deserve to be there.. get genuine opening batsmen .... bavums turning into the next tsolokile .. dropping jp on his home ground ?

  • Logan on January 3, 2016, 5:48 GMT

    By reading these mails I gather that there is a feeling that Hamla should not captain.That's not wise thinking , all the key players are out of form.Why Faf for captain?? , he is the worst in form compared to the rest of the batsmen.Hamla will definately come good in form, we must remember that with every failure there is a lesson to be learnt and then success prevails.My heart goes out to the team for the humiliation they keep facing since being scarred by India.This game is not over and I believe that the team will come good and win.

  • Alex on January 2, 2016, 23:15 GMT

    He has to come back or duplesis has to be captain because he is also not scoring runs.

  • ian on January 2, 2016, 22:27 GMT

    Is this the day the Boks finally admitted that they have not addressed the balance of the team since Mr Kallis left. where are the strong characters now needed to replace Smith,Kallis,Boucher and Pollock

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