Graeme Smith retires

The boy giant who stood up to legends

Graeme Smith was South Africa's youngest captain, a brash boy who wasn't afraid of older men, and he grew up under the harsh glare of international captaincy. He succeeded

Jarrod Kimber

March 5, 2014

Comments: 58 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Smith on Test debut, South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Cape Town, March, 10, 2012
Graeme Smith made his Test debut at 21, and scored 3 and 68 against Australia at Newlands © Getty Images
Enlarge

Graeme Smith trampled the grass between the slip cordon and the pitch, until he was level with David Warner. Then he let go with some straight talking about Joe Root and other home truths for Warner. Smith stood barely a metre from the batsman, towering above, but looking in another direction. Then, when he was sure Warner, and anyone with access to the stump mic, had got the message, he strolled, letting play continue once he was back in his spot at slip. That was Biff.

A short time later Morne Morkel was trapped in one of his overs from hell. Smith saw it, and ran up to help his lost fast bowler. He gave him the large paw on the shoulder, and deciding that Morne could use a bit more support, he stayed at mid-off until he was satisfied Morne was okay. Only then did he return to fill the massive hole he left at slip. That was Biff.

**

The squat is the same. So are the massive shoulders that his massive jaw is virtually on top of, clearly visible beneath a massive helmet. The arm guard is pointed straight at the umpire. His toes bobble up and down. There are two precise slow taps of the bat. Knees bent, back hunched like he is too big for his equipment, too big to even be that good at batting. He holds the bat like only he could lift it, not so he can swing it, but more so he can drop it on the ball.

And he faces Glenn McGrath. McGrath, the seasoned veteran who still looks like a boy, bowling to the confident boy with the man's body. In any sort of hand-to-hand combat, McGrath would likely be crushed. But with the ball, against a young kid thrown in at No. 3, McGrath wins often. Caught by Ponting, for 3.

In the second innings, Smith fights back. He turns balls from off stump to the leg side with that twist of his arms you will know so much you could imitate it drunk at 3am. When facing Shane Warne, he'll lean forward, eager to show he is not afraid of Warne. Then, when the ball suits him and he gets some air, he'll race at Warne, stamping his feet and lofting over mid-on with a beautiful lack of elegance. Eventually Warne will take the brash kid's wicket. Caught behind, by Gilchrist, for 68.

At Newlands, in 2002, that kid making his Test debut was dismissed twice, by four legends of the game.


Graeme Smith celebrates his century, England v South Africa, 2nd Test, Lord's, 2nd day, August, 1, 2003
Graeme Smith arrived as an international cricket in the summer of 2003, when he scored two double-centuries in England © AFP
Enlarge

Smith's form continued and he thought, rightfully, that he should have been in South Africa's squad to play the 2003 World Cup at home. And he wanted to make his point. He did it by demanding he captain Western Province against South Africa in a warm-up match. A bold move from someone his age. What was supposed to be an intra-SA friendly match turned darker and tougher when Smith demanded that his players take it seriously and take down the main team.

It could have gone horribly wrong. Considering the players on both sides, it probably should have. Western Province won by seven wickets and almost 20 overs to spare. That's not a contest. In the later games, which Smith did not captain, the senior team smashed their opposition. They had been burned once.

Smith's biggest impact might have been when he and Shaun Pollock went toe to toe during one of those matches. The issue was trivial. Smith was upset that Pollock wasn't adhering to the fielding conditions of an ODI match. He wanted it done properly, Pollock was just happy to have a warm-up. Here was a player in and out of the national team standing in the face of Pollock, a legend and captain. That is something people notice.

Smith had captained Gauteng school teams many times, and had experience in a few other senior games. But basically, that game he won for Western Province and him leading South Africa A in a comeback 2-1 win against a good Zimbabwe side was about it. And Shaun Pollock was captaining South Africa in the World Cup. Graeme Smith wasn't even in the squad.

Hosting the World Cup was a monumental deal for South Africa. They wanted people to see that they were growing, that they were changing and that their part of the world was getting it right. On one day of the tournament, someone who brought the old South African flag into a ground was turfed out. None of that, people are watching, we must be at our best.

Their team wasn't. They were so bad it even made news in the US when they crashed out of the tournament before it really began. Smith came in for three games, after Jonty Rhodes was ruled out with injury, and averaged 40. In Durban, he made 35 opening the batting against Sri Lanka. That's not what people remember from that game. They remember that South Africa got their Duckworth-Lewis calculation wrong. They became a laughing stock to the world, but at home they were upset.

So upset that despite being the second-ranked ODI team, the second-ranked Test team and having won 13 of their last 16 Test series, Pollock was out. They needed someone new.

It was stupid and reactionary. A jumbo panic button to stop the yelling. Cricket administrators are nothing if not adept at offering sacrificial lambs for the press and fans to slaughter. Graham Ford was upset Pollock was gone, "Polly was a soft target. All I can conclude is that people hit on him in order to save their own jobs."

Former South Africa coach, the late Bob Woolmer, said during that World Cup, "There is a vacuum in South African cricket. South Africa is not producing the type of cricketers it used to anymore. Many cricketers, both black and white, are not sure what the future holds for them." It wasn't just Woolmer thinking this. Allan Donald and Rhodes were done. Gary Kirsten was next. Pollock was embarrassed.

It wasn't a vacuum, but a monumental chasm. And it needed to be filled.

A vetting committee to help find a captain was formed. It was the national professional selection advice committee, or something like that. They didn't have many options. Kirsten was not going to last long. Mark Boucher was a wicketkeeper. Jacques Kallis was who he was. All they had was a young lad who had presence.


Graeme Smith celebrates South Africa's record chase, South Africa v Australia, 5th ODI, Johannesburg, March 12, 2006
Graeme Smith plundered Australia to set South Africa on course for the greatest ODI heist in history © Getty Images
Enlarge

Presence is like an X-factor, hard to explain, but Smith had this immense presence when he was in front of you. Monstrous confidence radiated through him. Somehow he comforted the leaders of South African cricket, and they completely forgot their history as a conservative cricket nation, and Smith bustled his way through.

Smith was the youngest captain of his country. Almost 50 years earlier Ian Craig had been the same for Australia - a teen prodigy who had taken the job when Australia desperately needed someone. The idea was he would lead a youngish side into the promised land. He had already toured England, and captained New South Wales to a Shield win, and with six Tests to his name he took over the main job. He was practically the same age as Smith when he took over.

Despite having no quota system, a solid year of captaining older men behind him, no 24-hour news cycle or the internet, Craig, the young batting genius, captained in only one Test series - series he won, but in which he made no real runs and tried to drop himself for the last match. Due to illness and bad form, and without the backing of senior players, Craig was ruined.

There were some in South Africa who were worried that something similar would happen to Smith. So there was a compromise that was considered, a thought that Smith could be an apprentice to Pollock. Pollock said no, Smith said no. They were different men. Pollock backed Smith. Smith backed Smith.

Thirty-five days after his Western Province team had beaten South Africa, Smith was captain of his country.

He had barely played outside South Africa - a few ODIs in Sri Lanka - and he knew little of international cricket. But Smith knew he wanted to conquer it. He knew he wanted the team to lead, and with eight Tests and 22 ODIs to his name, he went about it.

Smith quickly distanced himself from disgraced (but still loved) former captain Cronje at his first press conference. What was left of Cronje's team was also leaving. He also distanced himself from Pollock as a leader.

Pollock was laid back and magically gifted. It had been bred in him. Smith was a worker and his team would be more like him. South Africa would get to the ground earlier, and train harder and longer. More would be made of the nationalistic side of playing for the country. Smith wanted his men as inspired and prepared as he was.

Smith also said stupid things in the early days. People didn't like him for it. He was not the only 22-year old to say stupid things, but he wasn't a normal 22-year old. Australia seemed to hate him on first sight and felt betrayed that he mentioned their sledging in public. Some in South Africa felt he was more mouth than talent. And he arrived in England full of words.


An injured Graeme Smith fends off a delivery, Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, 5th day, Sydney, January 7, 2009
Graeme Smith led South Africa to a Test series victory in Australia twice © PA Photos
Enlarge

It was in England that his career as captain really started. With Matthew Hayden sledging him from many time zones away, and Nasser Hussain's massive insult of "wotshisname", Smith was learning that being captain involved more than just turning up half an hour earlier at the ground. So he reacted in a brutal way. He scored 277. His second double-century in 11 Tests. In his 12th, he would score another. Hussain retired. Hayden looked silly.

From there, Smith built an empire based around the all-round brilliance of Kallis, champion bowlers of different eras, two of the sexiest batting talents in modern cricket. He balanced all this on his frame. No matter how good the other players were, or how amazing their feats were, everyone knew who the leader was. He was at the front, and hard to miss.

Smith made a bunch of runs in the second best chase in Tests and the best chase in ODIs. He added Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss to England captains he saw off. He was in charge when South Africa were the No. 1 ODI team. He was in charge when they were the No. 1 Test Team. And it was under Smith that Australia's reign as the best team finally ended.

He did it all while opening the batting. When Smith is on the field, he has a little telltale sign that he is thinking hard, or something is going wrong for him. He slips his cap back a bit on his head, and rubs the front of his hair. Unlike most captains, he hasn't gone grey or even started to bald, despite that hefty duke rubbing his head several times a day. Then, after all that thinking, Smith goes out to bat. When he does that he averages 48.

With a dodgy technique, a frame too large for batting, political pressures on selection, the chief executive who gave him the job sacked, the pressure of captaincy for over a decade, a few coaches, a public split with an 'it' girl, growing into a man, dealing with a friend's career-ending injury, choking at World Cups, a long-distance relationship, and kids with illnesses, Smith still kept that average. That is a feat of a hungry giant.

But nothing is ever enough. In 2011, South African crowds booed Smith shortly after his team lost the World Cup quarter-final to New Zealand. A forensic examination of that South African team suggested a middle order that could be a problem under extreme temperatures. But, they had Hashim Amla, Smith, AB de Villiers and Kallis in the top four. Chasing a total of 221, I mean, come on. South Africa had tried to promote the phrase 'C is for Champions'. But after that, well, C went back to its old friend Choke. Smith was one hell of a leader, but even he could not carry his team to a World Cup victory, or even a final.

After the game, the South African players went home to show how sad they were at the airport. Smith did not. He went to Ireland. This seemed to infuriate everyone. It would turn out that he was doing so to seal the deal with the current Mrs. Deane-Smith. But he didn't take his punishment from the fans.

So the most successful captain in South Africa's history, the man who took his team to No. 1, who slayed Australia and burnt down English captains, was booed by his crowd. Some never forgave Smith for being brash when he was young. Others simply never stopped loving the confessed match-fixer Hansie Cronje (voted 11th greatest South African in a SABC poll in 2004). Even in Port Elizabeth, where Smith orchestrated a comeback win against the odds, there was a man wearing a Cronje t-shirt in the crowd. Cronje wasn't the batsman Smith was. He wasn't the leader Smith was. He wasn't even the man that Smith was.

But if you search the internet with questions about who the better captain was, you'll get bizarre answers like "Hansie WAS the best, unfortunately due to circumstances apparently beyond his control ... he was forced to do the 'devils' work." And " I suppose it also depends on whether you like Graeme Smith or not! Personally I cannot stand him. I loved Hansie and he was a brilliant sportsman". It's hard to argue that Cronje was not a good tactician in the field, certainly more adventurous than Smith, but Smith averaged 12 runs more, beat Australia in Australia and England in England when Cronje never did, lost the same amount of World Cups, has a similar win-loss record, captained a team to No. 1 in two forms of the game and never ever sold out his country for a leather jacket.

And Smith did it all after starting as the youngest captain in his nation's history, and then becoming the longest serving.


Graeme Smith walks out to bat one last time, South Africa v Australia, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 4th day, March 4, 2014
After more than 4000 days of leading South Africa, Graeme Smith now has other priorities © AFP
Enlarge

Smith has been in charge for 4006 days. In that time, a boy band could form, become No. 1, tour the world, split up to do solo stuff, end up in rehab, and then reform as retro throwback to appeal to their original fans. In 2003, we didn't know what an iPhone was, there was no Facebook and Julian Assange was an angry Melbourne hacker. There are 15-year old kids who have grown up only knowing Smith as captain. He has longevity, results and integrity. He isn't perfect, and has certainly spent years trying to prove that left-hand batsmen aren't actually more aesthetically appealing than right-hand batsmen. But he deserves to be respected as brutal, ugly monolith of world cricket. The large guy who was always there.

Since the age of 10, Smith had been saying he wanted to captain his country. He put goals on his fridge, and he accomplished them. Then he helped his country finally live up to its potential, while guiding a whole generation of players. But he isn't that kid anymore, he now has his own kids, one with an illness whom he needs to spend more time with. He isn't the angry young man demanding to get into the team, he isn't the bullish guy spraying people at press conferences, he is the old guy looking at a quieter life with his family.

**

Smith barged out onto the ground. His partner well behind him. The crowd stood. The officials rushed. The cameramen buzzed. Everyone looked miniature in comparison. Like a giant ape climbing a New York building, all eyes were on him. Smith the giant.

Australia waited in formation to honour him. The giant squeezed through them and out onto the pitch. His Western Province wicket. Clutching his GM chunk of tree, he would lead his country one last time. Them always behind him. He led. He led for a long time. He led well. The brutish behemoth. Biff leads. Then Biff leaves.

Leaving a tremendous hole that would take more than one man to fill.

Jarrod Kimber was 50% of the Two Chucks, and is the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

RSS Feeds: Jarrod Kimber

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Baiy on (March 7, 2014, 15:51 GMT)

Great stories being said of a great athlete, come leader and ultimately role model. SA had a difficult history - sporting role models seem to bring the nation together - I believe even N Mandela knew this. Looking at the demographics in the stadium, dressing rooms, commentaries - G Smith and SA team are doing something right. Perhaps it is wrong to blindly assume all is well in all aspects of society but it shows, great role models, great leaders add to the fabric of society. In my eyes - you are one such leader. Observing the way your team mates respect you can be seen all across SA and the world. You seem to have an ideology of what is possible, your character and actions proved to others that ideas can be translated to action. As a non-SA I personally feel: In cricket you contributed with a hard but fair never say die attitude with great talent to match; In life you have contributed to the SA and world multicultural fabric. Africa & the World needs more GS - you unite East and West.

Posted by   on (March 6, 2014, 9:52 GMT)

@TheCricketer I am neither a South African nor a SA hater & a De Villiers fanatic. I have given just an objective perspective on an overrated player & leader.

I have only considered the statistics that matter. In exam's outcome what matters most is result i.e. GPA. PERIOD. Similarly for captain main deliverable is win % & W/L ratio (given team with same credentials as the ones compared against).

That's why I chose Ponting that had team with same credentials as SA, captained in the same era as Smith (hence opposition's faced had similar capacity) & captained weak team during late phase of captaincy yet Ponting's captaincy record far far superior to Smith in both formats.

Posted by TheCricketeer on (March 6, 2014, 8:07 GMT)

Ahmed, you cant pick facts that you would like to pick and ignore all the others.

On balance Smith is far and away the best South African captain ever. He took a bunch of boys and he turned them into men and he redefined the South African way of playing cricket. He had a lot to do with the fact that certain players were stuck with in dry periods and maybe he had a bit do with the removal of players that he felt didnt show the type of drive he wanted in the side. Some may feel the likes of Gibbs and Klusener were hard done by but Smith took the side to number 1 in the world and beat Australia and England away from home twice. You cant argue with his results.

This generation of SA cricketers will always hold up the world cup as the missing element in an otherwise golden period but it doesnt make any of them lesser layers.

If you want to talk about facts - just look at the stats. He is one of the best opening batsman of this generation.

Posted by   on (March 6, 2014, 7:39 GMT)

you are not forgettable........never & ever.

Posted by JPK174 on (March 6, 2014, 6:12 GMT)

Just a thought 4 Ahmad

1). Stats don't lie. Over rated? If an average of 48 is over rated then there are some truly horrendous/mediocre players out there

2). There are many factors behind SA choking in tournaments, Smith may be involved in some of these, but then the same could be said of Steyn, Kallis, Boucher and AB. (by the way Amla has only been to 2 of these tournaments, excluding T20, if we only went on 2 points of reference, Faf would still average 200)

3). Compared with Ponting? really, I man who took over a team rated #1 in the world at a time they had their best players at the peak of their form. SA were to loose Donald, Rhodes, Kirsten and Kluesner within a year

4). Win rate again...see last point

5). Caution over potential lost series. I can live with that. PS that particular result the two batsman (our bowlers) made the decision not Smith. He just backed them

6). Destroyed Gibbs career? Wow lots of credit to Smith there on your part. I think Gibbs managed on his own

Posted by venkatesh018 on (March 6, 2014, 5:54 GMT)

A master narrator, Jarrod. A very readable article as usual, although slightly prejudiced. I personally think Hansie was the best of the modern South African captains who commanded immense respect of his team through his sheer presence. Cronje was a born, natural, leader of men.

Posted by   on (March 6, 2014, 5:29 GMT)

A Great Sportsman .. A man who defied all odds from early age ... A courageous man indeed ... Best of luck Biff

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 23:43 GMT)

Outstanding article as usual. Half of South African cricket fans don't think much of Smith, those are the one's who prefer 20/20 cricket.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 20:54 GMT)

brilliant, I'll never understand what he did so badly to be so unpopular at home. not the result he would have wanted in his final test, but that's cricket -even bradman got a farewell duck.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 20:48 GMT)

One word: Respect!, Biff regularly punched over his weight (no pun intended), inspite of a dodgy technique. Pure heart, great to see a lead like that.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 20:00 GMT)

1). Smith was always overrated as player, as Captain & he overstayed.

2). He was one of the reasons behind SA being chokers as he & Amla always choked in big games with pathetic averages in WCs & tournament finals

3). Leadership wise he was very poor compared to Ponting, as Ponting won 2 WCs out of 3 with no losses in 2 of them. Smith's team never made it to even semis of any ICC event, despite SA always being at par with AUS in terms of batting, bowling & fielding capacity. Even Dhoni won 3 ICC titles despite weak bowling

4). Similarly in tests his win rate was meager 50% compared to Ponting's 60%

5). Contrary to Ponting Smith lacked killer instincts. He would even squander sure win opportunities like he did in 1st test vs Ind

6). He destroyed the career of big match player: Gibbs

LOOK PEOPLE, Facts don't lie. If your perception is that he was a great leader, correct your perspective. Unfortunately this generation has tendency to praise mediocrity & take greatness for granted

Posted by Roshan_P on (March 5, 2014, 19:43 GMT)

Great article. Smith was a true giant of cricket in every sense of the word. Strong leader, tough batsman, great player.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 19:37 GMT)

as an Aussie I have always hated Smith, but that hate was based on genuine respect. for he was a tough batsmen, a tough leader and a formidable foe. test cricket will miss you Mr smith. congratulations on a marvellous career.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 19:34 GMT)

Well as an Indian I will miss those zaheer smith fights...he was a good cricketer. I thought he was given captainship not for his batting but his batting improved with it for sure...he is a good cricketer like most saffas are...He failed to become a great due to his technique and not due to his grit...He was also part of the team which won first IPL...so he has been a good overall performer... But like we say, a good captain is only as good as his team....cronje was a one man army..smith had kallin,amla, morkel, and well steyn is something different..beyond the world...and then ab..well he had the best resources at his disposal...may be the best set of cricketers in the world...they are massive still without kallis. Kudos to a good career.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 19:30 GMT)

An excellent article.A fitting tribute to south Africa's greatest captain

Posted by SurlyCynic on (March 5, 2014, 19:06 GMT)

Another great article, thanks Mr Kimber.

End of an era for SA cricket. Thanks for everything Graeme.

Posted by Ali_Chaudhary on (March 5, 2014, 19:01 GMT)

very difficult for me to call him a great servant of south african cricket or not when someone leaves his side when he´s just 33. The ppl who want to serve thier country play until they can and dont quit when they are just 33. He should have fought with his form and concentrated on his batting instead of retiring. At maximum he could have left ODI cricket. But this is unbelievable that he has left Test cricket. I´m pretty sure he would be fit and in good form once IPL starts.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 18:50 GMT)

"When I saw him in 2003, I thought CSA is making a big mistake by announcing smith as a Captain. Now see the stats, how he changed the psychology of South African cricketers, Fans and others around the world. It's a. Great Achievement BIFF. You were spot on in everything you did. You made South Africa cricket as Competitive one despite not winning any ICC events. Still cricket lovers will rate SA next to Australia in competitiveness, trying hard till the end. He was excellent and other players like Jonty Rhodes, Pollock, Makaya Nitni, Gibbs and Klusner supported him very well in the early days. Then he came on his own and Proved his mettle as one of great player in world cricket. End of another Legend whose centuries never came in Losing Cause. Good bye Greame Smith. Have a great carrier ahead.

Posted by vj_gooner on (March 5, 2014, 18:32 GMT)

Excellent writing. Well done Mr.Kimber.

And Smith is well and truly a giant of the game.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 18:31 GMT)

Smith has been greatly over-rated. Like other South African stalwarts, Boucher and Kallis, kept on for years to keep out young hopefuls from the townships.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 18:29 GMT)

Brilliant tribute to Biff, the man

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 18:15 GMT)

Smith over the years you have done a fine job not only for South Africa but also for cricket itself. You have started a new era by showing that captaincy is a different skill. You will be missed by not only the fans but also the game itself because there has never been a captain as great as you. Good bye to the greatest captain of all time.

Posted by Deuce03 on (March 5, 2014, 18:13 GMT)

On Cronje vs Smith: the batting average is largely irrelevant since Cronje was an all-rounder (and a good bowler). If you leave aside the back-room stuff, Cronje probably was a better captain. His team probably wasn't as strong as Smith's (in particular, he wasn't able to build a team around Kallis); he was dealing with a team recently reintegrated and still struggling for recognition, and he had a much better grasp of tactics and strategy much earlier in his captaincy than Smith did. By the same measures that have recognised the ability of captains like Fleming, Taylor, and Brearley on the field, Cronje must rank ahead of Smith, who was until recently the most negative Test captain around.

But you can't ignore that other stuff. You just can't. That sort of behaviour is an automatic disbar from the reckoning and Cronje remains cricket's greatest villain. But that doesn't mean we should denigrate his ability; if anything, that he was such a talent makes it more of a tragedy, not less.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 17:55 GMT)

another legend retired in less then 5 month time, you will be missing, Thank you smith #respect

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 17:50 GMT)

Perfect article to bid farewell to a man of Graeme's stature. He was a purist of the game and was the ultimate captain. He was so cricket cultured that you would think that he came from the MCC manual. Thank you Jarrod, this is a well written article that is deserving of this cricket giant. Farewell Graeme!

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 17:40 GMT)

Smith's life has been nothing short of a movie script, albeit one in real life. Absolutely fascinating to know these things about him. My respect for him and the South African cricket team has increased ten folds now - no longer do I intend to call them by the 'C' word. All the best to South Africa at the next World Cup and the future there-afterwards. All the best to Smith for his future life.

Posted by stormy16 on (March 5, 2014, 17:27 GMT)

One of the all time great captains and opening bats in my mind and importantly played tough but never ugly. Well he was the ugliest effective batter surely but other than that, not him or his world beating team got ugly (Aussies take note - you can be good without being ugly!). Smith never took backward steps and his records speaks for himself. Somehow SA never took to him and they still don't I reckon. May be in years to come they will look back on Smith with greatness but throughout the years SA haven't really taken to Smith. May be it was do with Pollock who was already a hero and may be it was do with the chocking at WC events, What ever the case may be I think everyone will soon accept that this is a modern great. His numbers may not stack up to the 10,000 or 50+ club but there aren't too many openers in that pack - opening is just that much harder and Smith was one of the best besides being a great leader.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 17:23 GMT)

very bad day of cricket history retirement of smith

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 17:19 GMT)

gr8 article from a smith-ian... would hv stayed for some more time considering he not playing odi.. anyways, so now two opening slots up for grabs or alviro could open with de.cok... happy retirement days the legend!

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 17:07 GMT)

Great read, gave an insight to one of the best captains SA has produced. Whoever replaces him will have big shoes to fill..

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 17:04 GMT)

Fantastic epitaph. Well written Jarrod. Thank you.

Posted by WonkyRabbit on (March 5, 2014, 17:04 GMT)

Tear jerking stuff Jarod!

Posted by Raki99 on (March 5, 2014, 16:52 GMT)

Awesome Article, And what a great leader Smith is... Hats off to Him and Good Luck for the Rest of his life and future endevors.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 16:48 GMT)

A sad day in history. Very unfortunate he could not end his career with a victory though, i really thought he will retire after making 10000 runs. Thanks Biff for an amazing run! Legend that will always be remembered in South African cricket history.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 16:45 GMT)

A large presence in more ways than one. He was dynamic, animated and great to watch. He will be missed by not only South Africa cricket but the world of cricket. Such is the fortune of the great ones. India lost Tendulkar, Dravid and VVS; Australia lost Ponting and now Smith and Kallis are gone. The cricketing world is left wanting and it will take years to fill their collective bats.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 16:29 GMT)

One of the best article I've ever read on a sportsman. I mentioned it in another comment, i hate to see south african people not giving smith his due respect. Even with great players without him your team could never become a world beater. And the prove of this will be clear now, in next few years saf will lose few more test series(though I certainly don't want it, saf is my 2nd favorite team after my home team).

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 16:13 GMT)

magic. I love Jarod Kimbers' sporting "obituaries." brilliant

Posted by JimDavis on (March 5, 2014, 16:08 GMT)

Is there a player who benefited more from the IPL that Mr Smith? Forced to mix with blokes who were not Saffa's. Once he realised people didn't hate him, that they were just taking the piss and he didn't have anything to prove, he became a totally different person and then evolved into a great leader

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 16:02 GMT)

his retirement is a blessing in disguise for SA. All they need now to become a better team is to get rid of Alviro.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 15:41 GMT)

Well written article, really enjoyed it. Very well done to Biff the legend. Will mean much to him if SA can hold out last few overs and draw the test and series.

Posted by FeluMittir on (March 5, 2014, 15:38 GMT)

Wonderful wonderful wonderful read! Wow. A fitting tribute to the great 'boy' of world cricket. Thanks Jarrod!

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 15:32 GMT)

Smith led SA from a strong but non performer to to No 1side of world of real cricket.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 15:22 GMT)

Great Article about the evolution of Graeme Smith. The only thing which haunts Smith as a captain, is World cup. The way he carried the SA team which suffered the unfortunate Cronje episode and leadership vacuum was phenomenal. The retirement is a shocker, he was good for at least 2 years. Adieus Smith, Thanks for providing the quality cricket.

Posted by steve48 on (March 5, 2014, 15:20 GMT)

Easily one of my favourite players. Guts and character a plenty, but bags of talent too; you don't average 48 without it. People mistake aesthetics for skill too often, to be able to clip balls from off stump through mid wicket so unerringly against the worlds best bowlers represents amazing hand eye and timing!

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 15:14 GMT)

extremely nice article! Loved Smith!!! A successful and great captain!

Posted by subbuamdavadi on (March 5, 2014, 14:44 GMT)

Hmm...in this day and age leading your country for more than 12 years is indeed an achievement...probably Fleming is another who had this longevity minus the achievements! Best of Luck to Graeme and his family.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 14:39 GMT)

Lovable, huggable, elegant, sweet he wasn't. And who the heck cares??? Smith was and will for a long time be simply the best and most consistent captain SA has had in the modern era!

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 14:39 GMT)

What a man! One of the greates leaders in cricket history, he deserves all the respect in the world

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 14:33 GMT)

Great player

Posted by Balisaf on (March 5, 2014, 14:24 GMT)

An unsung hero of legendary proportions. Without a question, he must certainly go down in history as the greatest South African captain.

Posted by Katey on (March 5, 2014, 14:20 GMT)

For me, the image I will always retain in my mind's eye, is Smith walking out with one dicky elbow and a broken hand, in an effort to save that Test match in Aus. Courage! I still get a tear when I remember that.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 14:16 GMT)

Awesome article, a really great read. Smith has always been my favourite player and my hero. I was lucky enough to meet him once and talk a second, and he was quite a nice guy. Always love watching him bat, scored heaps of runs against the odds. Gonna miss him!

Posted by Katey on (March 5, 2014, 14:11 GMT)

For me, the image I will always retain in my mind's eye, is Smith walking out with one dicky elbow and a broken hand, in an effort to save that Test match in Aus. Courage! I still get a tear when I remember that.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 14:04 GMT)

Yup spot on I never knew smith was this big a fighter and not liked by so many ppl .He and kallis were as good as half a team .Will be big holes to fill.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 14:03 GMT)

he wil never be 4gtn as a the most scsfl captain in the test cricket history ! msd shuld learn frm him!

Comments have now been closed for this article

TopTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Jarrod KimberClose
Country Fixtures Country Results
4th Match, Group A: Dolphins v Scorchers at Mohali
Sep 20, 2014 (16:00 local | 10:30 GMT | 06:30 EDT | 05:30 CDT | 03:30 PDT)
6th Match, Group B: Cape Cobras v Hurricanes at Hyderabad (Deccan)
Sep 21, 2014 (16:00 local | 10:30 GMT | 06:30 EDT | 05:30 CDT | 03:30 PDT)
8th Match, Group A: Super Kings v Dolphins at Bangalore
Sep 22, 2014 (20:00 local | 14:30 GMT | 10:30 EDT | 09:30 CDT | 07:30 PDT)
Knights v Warriors at Bloemfontein
Sep 25-28, 2014 (10:00 local | 08:00 GMT | 04:00 EDT | 03:00 CDT | 01:00 PDT)
Lions v Titans at Johannesburg
Sep 25-28, 2014 (10:00 local | 08:00 GMT | 04:00 EDT | 03:00 CDT | 01:00 PDT)
Complete fixtures » | Download Fixtures »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days