x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Cricket: Newly minted family man Graeme Smith returns

Back from attending his wife and newborn daughter, South Africa's captain is ready to lead the Proteas against England in the second Test.

South Africa's Graeme Smith scored 131 in the victory over England in the first Test at The Oval.
South Africa's Graeme Smith scored 131 in the victory over England in the first Test at The Oval.

Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain and new father, has been reunited with his teammates ahead of the second Test against England, which begins at Yorkshire's Headingley ground on Thursday.

The opening batsman returned home to Cape Town a week ago, following his team's innings victory at The Oval, to attend the birth of his first child.

His wife, Morgan, duly gave birth to a daughter, Cadence, and 31-year-old Smith set off on the return journey to the northern hemisphere six days later as his team bid for back-to-back Test series wins in England.

AB de Villiers led the tourists in Smith's absence in a two-day match at Worcester. But the captain will be in situ again for the start of the second Test of three, and his team are delighted about his return.

The middle-order batsman JP Duminy made that clear when he spoke after Monday's net session.

"He's added an extra member to his family, and we're all happy for him," he said.

"It's always good to have him back, the leader of our team. We're looking forward to having him here again."

Duminy also reflected on the landslide nature of South Africa's win in London, where they scored a mammoth 637 for two declared and took all 20 England wickets for only 625 runs.

"I didn't have my pads on; I didn't even have my whites on," Duminy said. "That's the first time for me that's ever happened."

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka will strive to win the fourth one-day international against India and stop the visitors from clinching the series.

India chased down a difficult target of 287 on a slow pitch in the third game and have the advantage over Sri Lanka who will be without Kumar Sangakkara.

The wicketkeeper fractured his finger and will be replaced by Lahiru Thirimanne.

India may bring in Manoj Tiwary for Rohit Sharma who has been woefully out of form.

In other news, Sierra Leone and Liberia have signed an agreement to coordinate the development of cricket in their countries and encourage their neighbours to take up the game, an official said.

Emmanuel Pessima, development officer of the Sierra Leone Cricket Association (SLCA), said the two nations will "coordinate cricket development activities" and encourage other countries in the Mano River Union - a four-nation bloc that also includes Guinea and Ivory Coast - to develop cricket programmes.

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