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1676 Topic: Congrats on Greame for his ton!
Ek

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1464
Congrats on Greame for his ton!
July 19, 2012, 08:43:46

 cricinfo

Respect to Biff

Graeme Smith has been a figure easy to misunderstand. That should not hide the fact that he is among the toughest, most intelligent cricketers around - and a great batsman to boot

Telford Vice

July 19, 2012

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  Graeme Smith read out a statement from Mark Boucher, Somerset v South Africans, Tour match, Taunton, 2nd day, July 10, 2012
Smith: brings out the worst in people © Getty Images 
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Players/Officials: Graeme Smith | Graeme Pollock
Series/Tournaments: South Africa tour of England
Teams: South Africa
 

There are only two players called Graeme in the annals of South African Test cricket. In fact, one is named after the other. Both bat left-handed and both are renowned for hitting the ball with a controlled fury that suggests they never want to lay eyes on the offending orb ever again.

Pollock is the surname of one of these Graemes, and there will be no quibble that he is among the greatest players ever to pick up a bat - even though he earned just 23 caps for a team that purported to represent a country whose laws forbade, on racial grounds, trying to discover if batsmen better than or even as good as him were to be found within its borders.

The other Graeme is on the verge of playing his 100th Test. He has scored 8042 runs with 24 centuries for an average of 49.64. Currently he is ranked the tenth best batsman in the game but he has been perched as high as second in the past.

He has opened the batting in 96 of his 99 Tests andamong active players only Virender Sehwag's 51.64 is a higher average than the 50.69 Smith has achieved when taking guard at the top of the order.

This Graeme has a higher career average as an opener than Sunil Gavaskar, Geoffrey Boycott, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Chris Gayle and Graham Gooch. He is the game's leading run scorer among active openers - Sehwag is eight runs behind him - and on the all-time list only Gavaskar, Matthew Hayden, Boycott and Gooch have been more prolific.

Despite having to take on fresh bowlers armed with a new ball on pitches at their juiciest, he has been part of 25 century stands, nine double-century stands, three triple-century stands, and a quadruple-century stand. That means he has helped push a partnership past three figures more than a fifth of the time he has gone out to bat. This helps explain why he has been run out only twice in his 174 innings.

More than all that, his imposing frame moving malevolently from the boundary to the crease makes a menacing sight for opponents. He strides with legs like the pillars of a cathedral and shoulders big and wide enough to knock down the same, all the while aiming his anvil of a jaw at the world and staring a dark hole through it.

Then he slices a deep groove across the crease using the edge of his mighty boot, bobs into a half-crouch, tucks his jaw behind his right shoulder, sticks out his backside, and proceeds to play some of the most unpretty strokes known to batsmanship.

Unpretty, that is, in the sense that they jar with the received aesthetics of how a cricket ball should be stroked. Or even with the unreceived aesthetics. In fact, it would be fair to say that his batting is denuded of anything so frivolous as aesthetics.

But as the numbers above prove, that does not stop him from treating bowlers as if they were a disease he has come to cure. There is a singular brutality in the way he hits a cricket ball that must make the uninitiated wonder whether they should call the police. Sometimes, when he is batting with the kind of intent that veers close to illegal, what with that unashamedly round-handed grip and his utter refusal to add a dash of finesse to anything, the ground does indeed resemble a crime scene.

Allied to all that is a spirit that rivals Mark Boucher's for competitiveness, and a mean streak that he sometimes makes no attempt to hide. He does not have Jacques Kallis' pure class (then again, who does?) nor AB de Villiers' pure talent (ditto), but he has a lot more besides that is often more valuable to his team than class, talent or both. He is a champion among champions and the South African team wouldn't be half the unit it is without him.

He is Graeme Smith and he should be a bona fide modern great. Should be, but isn't. Not where it counts: in the hearts and minds of many of those who decide such things. That would be us, cricket's great unwashed mass of professional and amateur opinionistas.

The reasons are many and complex but they boil down to the awkward truth that Smith brings out the worst in people. Not nearly all people, mind, but enough for what should be a comfortable stroll into the pantheon to be strewn with speedbumps and hairpin bends. His defenders are legion and easily outnumber his detractors, but the negative noise about Smith is significant and constant. In fact, a figure more loved as well as unloved would be difficult to find anywhere in the game.

Many of the reasons for this are rooted in the image Smith projected in his first few years as South Africa's captain. The man he followed, Shaun Pollock, was rational, gentlemanly and dispassionate - more Henry Kissinger than Henry V. Having succeeded the corrupt betrayer Hansie Cronje, Pollock had no choice but to be what was required.

So it was with Smith. When he was appointed, in the gloom of South Africa's first-round exit from their own World Cup in 2003, a strong, uncompromising, partisan voice was needed. Smith gave the country that voice, loud and clear. Sometimes too loudly and too clearly. He wore an overtly honest heart on his sleeve, often to extremes.

His default setting was bullishness and it took little prompting to crank that up to belligerence. He gave the media and the public a caricature of what they demanded, and no one complained. After Cronje's deviousness and Pollock's diplomacy, a bloke who told us what he bloody well thought and to hell with anything else was exactly what we wanted.

 

       
 
People think of Smith as an emotional oaf because he chews gum like a nightclub bouncer and doesn't blink in the heat of a confrontation. Then he says something to make them understand that they are dealing with a particularly sharp-witted man who isn't afraid to take them on
 
     
 

 

 

But as the painful memories of the Cronje and Pollock eras eased so the tolerance of Smith's rough edges melted away. What was once seen as charm was changed to churlishness; boyishness became boorishness; he wasn't strong, he was stifling. By the time Smith mellowed into his role and found the breathing space required to infuse his dealings with the real world with humour, it was too late. When he relaxed further and became one of the most insightful and articulate observers of the game, few noticed. He was big, bad Biff, and his type was cast.

In this he is, in large part, a victim of an age in which cricketers are conditioned not to say or do anything that could upset sponsors, broadcasters, the public, administrators, the opposition or anyone else who could be described as a stakeholder in the game. "Media training" means being taught to make only the blandest of pronouncements to the press, and if a gloss of enthusiasm is applied to these nothingnesses, even better. So much so that when players do stand out as individuals, they risk being misunderstood as rebels, or worse. Not true? How many disapprove of Sreesanth because of what they think they can gather of his personality from the stands, or of Lasith Malinga because of his mad mop of hair?

By the same token, people think of Smith as an emotional oaf because he chews gum like a nightclub bouncer and doesn't blink in the heat of a confrontation. Then he says something to make them understand that they are dealing with a particularly sharp-witted man who isn't afraid to take them on. That makes Smith as tough an opponent off the field as on it. It also makes him less likeable for those who prefer their cricketers to be untouchably aloof - all the better to be able to make up their minds about them on the flimsiest evidence and to influence others to do the same.

Smith will not allow that. Instead, he engages, argues, berates, belittles, offends, gets things badly wrong, gets them spectacularly right, soars to triumph in the time it takes to walk out to bat with a broken hand, and crashes to earth again by not understanding why a nation needs to see him come home with his team after they have made a mess of another World Cup campaign.

He shows more humanity than entire teams of other players put together, which means he is capable of driving this reporter clean around the twist with his all too ordinary actions and utterances in certain situations. He is also able to send me into orbits of praise for the clear-eyed, epic leadership he unfurls just when his team and his country need it most.

But sometimes Smith the captain seems to wield a personality so big it seems to eclipse the very existence of Smith the batsman. Who can blame observers for struggling to separate them? They should try harder, because Smith is at least as great a batsman as the other Graeme, and he has proved it. Give him his respect and his credit. He has earned no less than that.


Beeno1

Status: Hall Of Fame
Posts: 10904
RE: Congrats on Greame for his ton!
July 19, 2012, 10:08:46

There have been Smith bashers from day 1 but he has made them eat their words time and again.

I think his batting technique could improve but his natural talent has overcome these limitations. Go Smitty!


Ek

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1464
RE: Congrats on Greame for his ton!
July 19, 2012, 10:12:27

 Hehe, in his case Beeno, i don't think it's his natural Talent that has overcome those limitations, It has more to do with his personality. that never say die character. Now that Boucher is gone he is the one that brings that. Even if he doesn't perform, he will keep the fighting spirit there. Let us hope he can make a 100 in his 100 th test.


Ek

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1464
RE: Congrats on Greame for his ton!
July 19, 2012, 11:03:41

 Also found this really nice timeline in Cricinfo:

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.

 

  Graeme Smith departs for 22, Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 2nd day, December 27, 2005
Graeme Smith had a tough time against Australia in 2005-06, so revenge was sweet when it came © Getty Images 
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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 Bangladeshat 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.

 

  Graeme Smith pulls, England v South Africa, third Test, Edgbaston, 2 August 2008
On route to his unbeaten 154 at Edgbaston in 2008. Smith's finest hour? Tom Shaw / © Getty Images 
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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.


Beeno1

Status: Hall Of Fame
Posts: 10904
RE: Congrats on Greame for his ton!
July 19, 2012, 11:33:31

That is an impressive record Ek by any standards. Perhaps English wickets suit Smitt yand he can get  afew more double hundreds.

They should be starting soon - have not seen the test side.  Take it AB is taking the gloves and Duminy is in at 6 or 7?


Ek

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1464
RE: Congrats on Greame for his ton!
July 19, 2012, 11:47:42

 Weather Delay, so we still waiting.

Follow on Cricinfo if you want.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england-v-south-africa-2012/engine/current/match/534225.html


Beeno1

Status: Hall Of Fame
Posts: 10904
RE: Congrats on Greame for his ton!
July 19, 2012, 12:14:05

All we need now is foul English weather!!  England will bat first.

I saw this on Supersport:

Just one angry dark rain cloud delayed the toss for 25 minutes, but the covers have done their job impeccably and the pitch is the dry brown colour that is typical of the Oval.

Teams

England - Andrew Strauss, Alistair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, James Anderson.

South Africa - Graeme Smith, Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Jacques Rudolph, JP Duminy, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran


Super Supporter

Status: Ref
Posts: 16
RE: Congrats on Greame for his ton!
July 20, 2012, 10:04:28

Thanks for that timeline Ek

Was certainly a good read


Beeno1

Status: Hall Of Fame
Posts: 10904
RE: Congrats on Greame for his ton!
July 20, 2012, 12:24:26

Yes it was a very good read Ek.

But how can I thank snippet enough  for not letting those fearsome  ickle mice lose here and terminating the board. I too am still alive and kicking. Or maybe I am a ghost and do not know it yet.

Stick around snippet you will come to love it here - its free to all, transparent and the language and tone are good and no easily offended banning button loonies. Hahahahha ou snippit cant bear to depart.

Ek I cant see us winning this test but will be satisfied with a draw. Cricket is the weirdest of games and things can change in a flash. Nevertheless thats my take.  Swann could be the key man?

Sorry Ek could youonswer this on the thread re the test


Super Supporter

Status: Ref
Posts: 16
RE: Congrats on Greame for his ton!
July 23, 2012, 11:55:17

As I said in the other post, get your facts straight Beeno1

I have nothing else to add, except I can only offer friendly advice, if you continue to behave the way you do, accept the consequences.

It has nothing to do with this board at all...... it's about you.

 


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