x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Graeme Smith leads by example

Statistically, Graeme Smith has scored more Test runs as captain than any other player. He has also scored more centuries than any other cricketer has while leading his country.

Statistically, Graeme Smith has scored more Test runs (6,664) as captain than any other player. He has also scored more centuries (20) than any other cricketer has while leading his country.

But he has found recognition as a leader of men hard to achieve, even though he was given the honour of captaining a star-studded World XI against Australia in the ICC Super Series Test in 2005.

He was given the task of leading South Africa after their shock exit from the 2003 World Cup. He was only 22 at the time, with just eight Tests under his belt.

And he has not done too badly. His side are ranked No 2 in Tests and No 4 in one-day internationals.

In the 37 Tests that South Africa have won under his captaincy, Smith's average is an impressive 64.56. In the 23 matches they have lost, his contribution with the bat has been 27.59.

Yet Smith has been labelled "captain dud", called a "big mouth", conservative as captain and too predictable. He has been heckled by Australian fans and criticised by their players.

Kevin Pietersen described him as "an absolute muppet" and Herschelle Gibbs, in his autobiography, said was "too powerful".

But for cricket fans around the world, Smith will forever be defined by the Sydney Test of January, 2009.

The series was already won, but he batted with a broken hand and a tennis elbow in a failed bid to draw the final game.

That remains a stirring memory in cricketing conscience. He became an instant hero. Even the Australians fans gave him a standing ovation.

 

arizvi@thenational.ae