Pro20 Series 2008-09 February 11, 2009

Smith set to return for Cape Cobras

Cricinfo staff

Graeme Smith: "I did feel a little bit rusty, I guess. It was about getting confidence and movements back today" © Getty Images

South African captain Graeme Smith is all set to make a comeback from injury by turning out for the Cape Cobras against the Dolphins at Newlands in the first leg of the Pro20 semi-finals. Smith joined his Cobras team-mates at the nets on Tuesday and remarked he was happy with his progress.

Smith was hit on his left knuckle by Mitchell Johnson while batting in the third Test in Sydney and bravely batted at No. 11 in the second innings to save the game, but in vain. He subsequently missed the limited-overs leg of the tour.

"The knuckle injury has healed nicely and feels pretty much 100%," Smith told the Cape Times. "Obviously taking another blow there would be rather sore. And I've just had a period getting over the bruising from a second (blood) injection in my elbow.

"I did feel a little bit rusty, I guess. It was about getting confidence and movements back today. As the day's gone on, I've felt more and more happy. This is probably the best preparation I've had in a long time."

Smith has also been battling a tennis elbow in his right arm, for which he will require surgery but only after the Test series against Australia at home.

"From what the doctors say, you can't really do long-term damage," he said. "If I need the surgery, then it's just about taking the required three months in a big enough break from cricket."

Cobras coach Shukri Conrad too was satisfied with Smith's workout. Smith's return was on expected lines after his South Africa coach Mickey Arthur noted last week that the fracture had mended perfectly.

"In Graeme's own words, he was slowly working on his shape again today, but I think he showed he'll be fine come Friday," Conrad said. "He'll be hitting it sweetly again.

"The good thing about having him around is that he immediately brings a hardness, a toughness to the practice. Apart from his playing ability, he just slots in and everybody knows what he expects, and what he is about, and it's like he's never been away."