South Africa v India, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 5th day January 6, 2011

Smith rues flatter pitch on day five


Graeme Smith, South Africa captain, felt that he had the time but not the conditions to bowl India out on the last day of the deciding Test in Cape Town. "I expected more from the wicket today," he said at the post-match press conference. "It didn't have much swing, like we saw on the first three days."

The Newlands pitch began crumbling on day four and was expected to remain tricky for batting. There was variable bounce on offer, which Morne Morkel made us of, while Dale Steyn gave everything he had and more, and succeeded in bowling outswing despite the conditions. Smith said that the two quicks, aided by Lonwabo Tsotsobe, could have used the help of an additional seamer to carry some of the load. "Having the extra seamer is a massive bonus. MS Dhoni has worked the whole series like this [with three seamers]. Having bowlers fresh is obviously nice."

South Africa had to juggle just three pace bowlers because Jacques Kallis' rib injury prevented him from bowling.

Smith was also hoping for a 12th man in the form of the pitch, which had cracks that should have worked to the spinners' advantage, but Paul Harris had no joy at all. "I expected the cracks to play more of a role," Smith said. "If you hit the rough, you got spin, but on the straight there wasn't much."

Even though Smith knew that with the mercury reaching 38 degrees for three successive days the pitch would "become a really good batting unit, as we saw against England last year," he still thought South Africa had the firepower to claim 10 wickets and was "disappointed that we didn't get close today and only managed to have them three down."

Still, he was pleased with how the pitch had behaved over the course of the match. "It's provided really good Test cricket. Compared to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, which were roads, it was nice to play a series where everyone had the opportunity to do well."

South Africa have failed to register a series win at home for the third successive season but Smith did not see that as worrying sign. "We've played some good cricket around the world in recent times. You do want to be really strong at home. For two Tests here we played really, really well and for one we were poor."

That one was not the decider, Smith emphasised, but the Boxing Day Test that South Africa lost by 87 runs. "We were really disappointed with the way we played in Durban. There were moments were we needed to fight a little harder and India were better than us in those moments." Smith thought his team bounced back from those lows and laid claim to the key moments in Cape Town when they recovered from 130 for six to reach 362. "We showed a lot of character to get into a position to win."

The fact that they didn't win did not appear to irk Smith too much. "It's good for world cricket that the top four teams are competitive. We don't need to fool ourselves that we are better than what we are." Smith spoke as though a period of assessment for his team had ended and they were satisfied with the result. "The majority of our Test side has been very successful over the last few years."

In some ways, this series does mark the end of an era for the South Africa Test side. It is Corrie van Zyl's last series as coach of the national team. The next series is scheduled for September, against an Australia in decline and there will be a new set-up in place. "The next Test is nine months away and we'll have new coaching staff. Hopefully it will be someone who can challenge us and take us to the next level."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anit on January 8, 2011, 19:01 GMT

    I was one of those who predicted 3-0 drubbing of India. It is amazing how India held up to draw the series. The main saviours were Tendulkar, VVS and Gambhir in the last match. The rest of the batting line up was mediocre. Dravid really needs to thinks about future. At 38 it does not better for the most. Shewag was a failure. He just proved his weakness on really bouncy and seaming tracks.

  • FAISAL on January 8, 2011, 5:07 GMT

    I think smith is becoming like ponting......or he was really upset with the pitch coz his best new ball pair could do anything .......India is always better in their batting some days u have to see ups and downs so on that day you cannot say India batting lineup is only good on the paper.....many people says India can bat only on flat...who asked to make flat track did India requested.....come on guys's a game the best wins....if you love winning than try to accept loss too...India was best in 3rd test and they showed.

  • Dummy4 on January 7, 2011, 20:57 GMT


    I think you are out of your mind.The day 1 on centurion favours bowlers later on it became a flat track so that SA scored 600+ runs and in 2ndinnings india scored 400+ runs even SA batted in the 1st innings they wld hv scored less than 200 bcos its the nature of the pitch.

    And i see you are a crazy guy you called it a bad day in SA office when they bowled out for 130 in durban despite indian bowlers hard work haha it sounds funny to me.In 2nd innings they bowled out for 200+ runs do u call it again a bad day in their office ?.Ii think you seriously consider your state of mind before commenting about a team.

  • Sal on January 7, 2011, 20:30 GMT

    "If we were playing India at home, and it was 1-1 we would be sitting in our dressing room a touch disappointed"

    Shouldn't you be excited Greame with 1-1? If the score line reads that, you were able to beat India in India in atleast one out of 2 matches, so you should be excited.

    Ane another advice for Greame is that in order to get to that number 1 spot, we need to have passion to get there. You need to take risks and show confidence in the talent you have in your boys. I believe all you needed was 240+ score for Indians to chase. That would have been tempting even for anyone to take a shot at. If you play your opponents out of time, you will never win tests like this, and neither you will get to that number 1 spot, Greame.

  • gerard on January 7, 2011, 20:25 GMT

    Justcricket9me, which world do you live in? And who made you an expert on pitch conditions, a flat track is a flat track for both teams although match conditions change day by day if not hour by hour.Let me run some facts by you between 2001 and 2010 India played the world champion Australian side 19 times results won 9 lost six admittedly four of those wins were at home against an Australian side in decline. India have beaten England home and away, beaten Pakistan home and away,beaten the West Indies home and away beaten New Zeland home and away,drawn with SA home and away and beat SL at home and drew with them away that is why they are number one. Another fact look at these stats Shewag test average 54.71 , Dravid test average of 52.75, Tendulkar test average56.95. Gambhir a test average of 53.10, Laxman a test average of 49.35, Ganguly a test average of 51.25, Kumble 619 wickets, Harbajan 393 test wickets and Zaheer 271 hardly flat track bullies

  • Dummy4 on January 7, 2011, 19:32 GMT

    come on biff...truth is sa batsmen can't cope on green tops (durban) and the bowlers can't get 20 wickets on flat tops...

  • P on January 7, 2011, 19:20 GMT

    This was a very hard fought and even Test series. I think India did really well to get the result they got. It was Kallis who managed to rescue SA on the fourth day of third Test, otherwise Smith would've been searching for even sillier excuses. I think everyone can see now that Graem Smith is a sore loser, for it must feel like a defeat when you set out promising 3-0 whitewash, and have to contend with 1-1 scoreline in the end. He should act graciously and accept that India proved in SA that they deserve to be No. 1 Test team.

  • Johan on January 7, 2011, 18:33 GMT

    First test: SA wins by innings

    Second test: India wins by 87 runs. After some shocking umpiring decisions (De Villiers, Boucher) and Zaheer's not out lbw. That could have gone either way.

    Third test: Tendulkar's played and missed about 30 times during his innings. Harbajan got bowled and the bails didn't fall off!!! SA could have had a much bigger lead and declared sooner.

    People complaining about Smith...he made more runs that Sehwag in this series.

    None the less a great test series between two very strong teams and extremely entertaining to watch. Long live test cricket!!!

  • steve on January 7, 2011, 18:29 GMT

    "justcricket9me"...what happened to SA in the second innings at Durban...was that also a bad day in office? In 3rd test without Kallis entire team folded in both the innings...were those also a bad days in the office or is SA simply a bad office (sans Kallis)? The rankings speak for themselves...India are#1 and South Africa are a distant #2...excuses are not going to change the ratings.

  • Graeme on January 7, 2011, 18:19 GMT

    Graeme Smith is the worst SA captain in the history of the game. He is treacherous, deceitful, arrogant and disrespectful of opposition. He should not be around for the next test in September. He works with the curator every night of the test match to either moisten the pitch or to get the pitch rolled as required for his needs. Being a Hershelle Gibbs supporter i am convinced of all the cons committed by smith. Its time South African board comes to know about his dirty tricks.

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