Graeme Smith has announced his retirement from international cricket. He was only 22 when he was made the captain of South Africa. At that time, he was the only player in the team who had not met Hansie Cronje. South African cricket was going through a difficult phase and they were looking for a new start, and that’s how Graeme Smith’s fairytale career begin.
So, suddenly a young man was captaining his idols. In his first few Test matches as a captain, Smith used to stand at mid-off and encourage his team. Eventually he graduated to first slip and spent rather more time thinking. In his initial years, he was aggressive and in your face—over the years he has matured as a captain. The best part about Smith’s captaincy was—the balance he maintained between respecting the big names and taking his own decisions. It must have been difficult for a young man to differ with his idols, but to Smith’s credit, nothing ever came out in public domain. It’s very important for a leader to put team’s interest ahead of his own, and Smith did exactly this, throughout his career.
No cricket lover can forget the moment when an injured Graeme Smith walked out at the SCG, with a big bandage on his hand, to save his team from a defeat. He couldn’t save that match for South Africa, but, that day, he became the bravest man in world cricket.
Smith’s first major achievement came when South Africa defeated Australia in Australia (Test 2-1, ODIs 4-1) in 2008-09. And, since then, Smith and his team haven’t looked back. Smith marshaled South Africa to the number 1 spot in Test cricket, and during this period, South Africa established themselves as the most dominating Test team.
Graeme Smith wasn’t the most elegant batsman, but he was surely one of the toughest I have ever seen. In the game of cricket, players are judged on the basis of their records and statistics, but irrespective of his outstanding numbers, Smith, for me, is beyond all these numbers we keep talking about. Smith’s biggest weapon was his temperament.
Never the most elegant, Smith bludgeoned his way to 27 test centuries. It has been his ability to grind out fourth innings runs, and this according to me is what makes him a very, very special batsman.
# Most Tests as captain – 109
# Most runs as captain – 8656
# Most 100s as captain – 25
# Most 4th innings 100s – 4
It’s true that the fans of the sport will not remember Smith as a legend, but the players will.
by the editor