Smith still pondering greater SA role
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