South Africa news October 2, 2013

Graeme Smith back to competitive cricket


Graeme Smith has successfully completed his first competitive outing since May, turning out for his franchise, Cobras, in a warm-up match against Indian side Madhya Pradesh at Newlands. Although the South African Test captain scored just two runs, he fielded in the slips and reported a clean bill of health after 21 weeks out of the game, which bodes well for the upcoming series against Pakistan.

Earlier this year, Smith had to cut short his stint at Surrey due to the recurrence of an ankle problem and returned to Cape Town for surgery. Doctors discovered the condition was actually a fracture of the heel bone. Smith was operated on and had two pins inserted. He was on crutches for eight weeks before he could begin any physical activity.

He has had a multi-disciplinary team of experts around him including a personal trainer, biokineticist and physiotherapist, and has made steady progress. Smith's rehabilitation has included running on an anti-gravity treadmill and, more recently, regular cricket activity.

"He has been working really hard with us in the nets," Cobras coach Paul Adams told ESPNcricinfo. "And he has made good progress. He looks ready to go." Smith, with the South African side, will depart for Dubai on Friday evening for a series of two Tests, five ODIs and two Twenty20s against Pakistan.

"As things stands now, Graeme is on track to play," Mohammad Moosajee, the team manager who is also a medical doctor, said. "We are happy with the progress he has made so far. We have approached every week with a plan in place to get him to ready for the series. Ideally you always want more time, but he has worked well. We have been careful to monitor him at every step, so we don't overload him."

The Tests series is South Africa's first since they whitewashed Pakistan 3-0 at home in February and will be an important assessment of their grip on the No. 1 ranking because of the conditions. This will be South Africa's first series in subcontinent conditions since earning the Test mace and they are expecting a time as tough as England, who were also No. 1 when they went to the UAE early 2012 but were blanked 0-3 by Pakistan.

South Africa also have a proud record to uphold. They have not lost a Test series on the road in seven years, since they were beaten in Sri Lanka in 2006. Smith has led them throughout that time and has previously said he looks forward to extending that run in the future.

His return to the crease will be welcome news for South Africa's Test ambitions, and it will also bolster their ODI campaign after a forgettable time at both the Champions Trophy and in Sri Lanka. Smith was ruled out of both series with the same injury concern and South Africa did not fare well at all. They were booted out of the Champions Trophy at semi-final stage by England and crashed to a 4-1 defeat in Sri Lanka. Although he is not captain in that format, he will partner Hashim Amla at the top of the order to add stability and experience in what is still a developing unit.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on October 3, 2013, 16:10 GMT

    Grame smith is the one who i respect after sangakkara and great cricketer too...

  • Steve on October 3, 2013, 13:57 GMT

    Sad, but true that Smith has become quite injury prone in the last few years. So much so, that no IPL team is even interested in bidding for him any more! I think he should retire now to save himself for a useful post cricket life.

  • Ankit on October 3, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    Man with brave heart and guts. I never liked him until i saw his innings and mental strength in match against AUS. One hand broken, team in trouble, 5 overs left. This man came out again to bat and almost batted through the day with only one Hand. Single handed player against Johnson and lee. Salute to you buddy. Remarkable effort. Must need one big hundred in UAE.

  • ESPN on October 3, 2013, 11:58 GMT

    The best captain in history of cricket .......

  • Nikhil on October 3, 2013, 11:27 GMT

    Smith is the reason SA are where they are. Taking on leadership at a ridiculously young age, with hardly any experience, with the team and the entire CSA in doldrums and for bringing them to where they are now (NO.1, bitches!)itself defines who he is as a person, a captain and a cricketer.

    Need I say more?

  • AB on October 3, 2013, 10:39 GMT

    He si one of the gretest South African Captains i think after Hansie Cronje..... Long Live Biff...all time great captian for proteas...

  • Dummy4 on October 3, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    so disappointed to read some of the above negative comments. surely they must be from another world . Graeme has been the best captain of all time and he will continue to be. and his presence in the ODI team will boost the confidence on youngsters as well. he was the best opening partner for amla and Saffers will regain that lost momentum with his presence. go buddy, show the dumb heads how worthy you are to this team. Real cricket loving fans are behind you.

  • Mark on October 3, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    Love this: Smith must call it a day...oh and contributes nothing. His captaincy alone warrants his place, then there is his mentorship and fielding. As for can only catch what comes your way (like saying we should drop Steyn as he doesn't get many catches) for his batting, he is solid and he scores. He has an average of 48 odd, which is great. He never has bowled much anyway, so using that as a reason is pretty funny. Granted he does not produce 100 per game, but he does damage and he is dependable. He has lots of years in him and with him leading SA, we can only keep on top.

  • Nix on October 3, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    Time for graeme to quit? really? Thank goodness people like you will never be in coaching positions. Sachin plays till his 45 but graeme must retire at 32. Then I guess Dhoni, M Clark, KP and J Anderson must also call it a day. Laughable really!

  • Shahzad on October 3, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    all the best G.smith... Greatest cptn in the history of the world... Em proud of you...

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