Graeme Smith's retirement March 4, 2014

From young leader to matchwinner

ESPNcricinfo staff
In a 12-year period, Graeme Smith established himself as a leader par excellence. Here's a look back at his illustrious career

March 8-12, 2002
A 21-year-old Graeme Smith makes his international debut against Australia at Cape Town. Batting at No. 3, he scores a battling 68 in the second innings, as South Africa suffer a four-wicket defeat.

October 18-21, 2002
Opens the batting and scores exactly 200 in only his fifth Test innings, against Bangladesh at East London.

January 2-5, 2003
Scores 153 against Pakistan at Durban, as he and Herschelle Gibbs put on 368 for the first wicket. It is Smith's second hundred in his eighth Test, and will be his last innings in the ranks.

March 16, 2003
Smith is named Test and ODI captain, replacing Shaun Pollock after a disastrous World Cup. At 22, he is the youngest player ever to captain South Africa.

April 24-27, 2003
Wins his first Test in charge, by an innings and 60 runs against Bangladesh at Chittagong, on the way to a 2-0 series victory.

July 24-28, 2003
A momentous tour for Smith begins with him scoring 277 in the first Test at Edgbaston, an innings that sets a new record for the highest Test score by a South African. In all, Smith scores 362 runs in the match, which ends in a draw.

July 31-August 3, 2003
Another huge score, 259 in the second Test at Lord's (still the highest score by an overseas player at the ground), and this time in a winning cause. Smith's third double-hundred of his young career helps put his side 1-0 up in the series, though England fight back to secure a draw in the fifth Test at The Oval.

January 16-20, 2004
Smith and Gibbs record their third 300-run opening stand in just over a year, against West Indies at Centurion. A ten-wicket victory wraps up Smith's first home series as captain 3-0.

March 26-30, 2004
Scores an unbeaten 125 as South Africa chase 234 to win the third Test against New Zealand at Wellington. Gary Kirsten, now South Africa's coach, retires after the match.

January 13-17, 2005
A setback at home, as England win the fourth Test at Johannesburg to take a 2-1 lead that is enough to secure them the series. Smith, suffering from concussion, scores a defiant 67 not out batting at No. 8 in the fourth innings but Matthew Hoggard takes seven wickets as South Africa are bowled out in 59.3 overs on the final day.

March-April 2005
Three consecutive centuries, in Trinidad, Barbadoes and Antigua, help South Africa to a 2-0 win in West Indies. Smith tallies 505 Test runs at 84.16 in the Caribbean.

October 14-17, 2005
Captains the ICC World XI against Australia at Sydney but manages scores of just 12 and 0 in a 210-run defeat.

December 2005-March 2006
Returns to Australia with South Africa, only to lose the three-Test series 2-0; South Africa are then whitewashed 3-0 at home to complete a miserable run of five consecutive defeats to the Australians. Smith averages 25.83 and 18.75 in the two series, while a finger injury rules him out at Johannesburg, ending his unbroken run in the Test side since debut.

January 2-6, 2007
Scores 94 and 55 at Cape Town to lead South Africa to a 2-1 victory against India, having lost the first match of the three-Test series.

October 8-12, 2007
Smith makes his first Test hundred in two-and-a-half years against Pakistan at Lahore.

February 29-March 3, 2008
A world-record opening partnership of 415 with Neil McKenzie sets up an innings victory over Bangladesh at Chittagong, securing South Africa's seventh series victory in a row. Smith's 232 is his fourth double-hundred and comes in his 54th Test as captain, surpassing Hansie Cronje's South Africa record.

July 10-14, 2008
Despite South Africa being forced to follow-on 346 runs behind, Smith scores his second Lord's hundred to help save the first Test of the series against England.

July 30-August 2, 2008
Another milestone as captain. After taking a 1-0 lead at Headingley, South Africa secure a first series victory in England since 1965 by winning the third Test at Edgbaston. Again Smith shows his inspirational qualities - and his affinity for batting in Birmingham - by making 154 not out to lead his side from 93 for 4 to their fourth-innings target of 283.

December 17-21, 2008
Scores 108 in the fourth innings at the WACA as South Africa chase 414 to win the first Test against Australia. It is the second-highest successful run chase in Test history.

December 26-30, 2008
South Africa clinch the series with a nine-wicket win in Melbourne. It is another landmark for South Africa, their first ever series victory on Australian soil, and hands Australia a first home defeat in almost 16 years. Smith scores 62 and 75, extending his margin at the top of the leading runscorers' list for 2008, with 1656.

January 7, 2009
Comes in at No. 11 to bat with a broken left hand and sore elbow as South Africa strive for a draw at the SCG. Smith lasts almost half an hour before being bowled for 3, just minutes from the close.

February-March 2009
Australia gain revenge with a 2-1 win in South Africa, to hang on to the No. 1 Test ranking for a while longer. Smith breaks his right hand this time, at Durban, and misses the third Test.

January 3-7, 2010
Makes 183 in the third Test against England at Cape Town but, for the second time in the series, Graham Onions defies South Africa's bowlers in the final overs as the tourists cling to their 1-0 lead.

January 14-17, 2010
South Africa finally make their superiority count, winning the fourth Test at the Wanderers by an innings and 74 runs to tie the series 1-1. Smith's second hundred in consecutive innings - his sixth in total against England - takes him to his highest position of second in the ICC Test batting rankings.

November 12-16, 2010
Against Pakistan in Dubai, Smith goes past Kirsten's total of 7289 runs to become South Africa's second-highest runscorer in Tests, behind Jacques Kallis.

March 2011
Resigns ODI captaincy after South Africa's quarter-final exit from the World Cup.

November 9-11, 2011
An extraordinary Test at Newlands sees South Africa chase 236 to beat Australia, after trailing by 188 on first innings. Smith's 37 is the top score as South Africa are dismissed for 96 but his side responds immediately by demolishing Australia for 47; Smith then adds another unbeaten, fourth-innings ton to his collection to secure victory.

December 2011-January 2012
Despite a poor personal return for Smith, South Africa beat Sri Lanka 2-1 to record their first Test series win at home for three years.

March 7-11, 2012
Scores his 24th Test hundred in the drawn Test against New Zealand in Dunedin.

July - August 2012
Smith becomes the seventh player in the history to register a century in his 100th Test. The hundred sets up a win in the first Test at The Oval. South Africa go on to win the three-Test series 2-0 and dethrone England as the top Test team.

November - December 2012
Scores a vital century in the drawn second Test in Adelaide, then leads South Africa to a 309-run win in Perth to seal the series. It is South Africa's second successive series win in Australia

February 1, 2013
On the day he turns 32, Smith also becomes the first person to captain a team in 100 Tests, when he leads South Africa against Pakistan in Johannesburg. CSA declares the first day of the Test as 'Biff day', after Smith's nickname

October 24, 2013
Scores 234 against Pakistan in Dubai. It is Smith's fifth double-ton in Tests and his 326-run partnership with AB de Villiers equals Don Bradman's record of a batsman with most triple-century stands

March 3, 2014
At Newlands, Smith announces his retirement from international cricket during the third Test against Australia

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2014, 22:47 GMT

    Another inspiring captain after the likes of Steve and Ricky bids farewell to Test cricket. Saw him as a young man at 22 taking the captainship and till date remained the longest serving Test captain of all times. Didn't hang around for long time like our Indian prodigies...he signed off when he felt it was time....truly a hallmark of a man who knows what he does and in command always....Have a great retirement Graeme.....privileged to have followed your standards of cricket and captaincy....

  • Vikram on March 5, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    Nobody can boast of such an incredible run as a Captain for such an August team! Smith's record of most Test Caps as a Captain, is least likely to be broken in the history of cricket. He even captained Gary Kirsten, who eventually would become his Coach! What an incredible career... What an incredible journey...

    Go on Smithie... hang up those boots, stretch the tired legs and with a mug of beer in your hand, bask in the glory of all that you have achieved for your country and for yourselves. Cheers mate!

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2014, 7:26 GMT

    Thanks Smithy', you entertained us to the hilt, wonderful memories. tc.

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2014, 7:13 GMT

    Biff.. Unlike any other players I have ever seen. you didn't think about your own self anytime you playing for your country. Alll you cared and stood is for the team. Its sad for me even though you didn't reach 10K in test you have given more than what people asked for. Good Luck Biff

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    To Graeme Smith, our captain courageous. You have been a phenomenal leader, despite the relentless barrage of critisism focused on you from the media since the day you took over a Protea team in tatters, you have been a collussus for the game and for South African Sport. You have displayed the type of fight I don't think we will see again soon in Protea kit. Thank you for your dedication and grit. I am truly sad to see you go, you are Test cricket's greatest captain. Thank you for the legacy that was built on your unflintching back. ‪

  • Kobus on March 4, 2014, 6:18 GMT

    What an inspirational captain and man, I'm proud to call him my countryman. Despite an incredible record he never really got the credit he deserved, but even I as a supporter of Graeme through the rough times realise that maybe the time to call it quits has arrived. If hopes and dreams were reality, he would have one more massive fourth-innings last stand and save this Test for his country, but all we can ask is do what you can and then have a rest, you deserve it.

  • Wesley on March 4, 2014, 6:09 GMT

    Biff take a bow, the time is right though. You carried this team from nothing to number 1 over a bullish career. You reached the point where your heart cannot rule your head

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