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Happy Birthday Graeme Smith – A legendary skipper who helped South Africa scale the summit

Graeme Smith Turns 38 On February 1 And Under His Captaincy, South Africa Scaled The Summit Of World Cricket.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Siddharth Vishwanathan | Updated on: 01 Feb 2019, 02:59:58 PM
Graeme Smith turned 38 on February 1 and he will be remembered for South Africa reaching the top ranking in sport. (Image credit: Twitter)


  • Graeme Smith helped South Africa win series in England and Australia in 2008, 2012.
  • Graeme Smith is the only skipper to captain a side in 100 Tests.
  • Graeme Smith has the most runs and centuries as skipper.

New Delhi:

Graeme Smith witnessed heartbreak in the 2003 World Cup as South Africa exited in dramatic and bizarre circumstances. He was thrust with the captaincy at the young age of 22. With South Africa in tatters and with the public confidence at an all-time low, Smith proceeded to forge a South African unit that would not back down from anyone. There were plenty of setbacks but in 2008, when Smith helped South Africa win a series in England for the first time, South Africa set upon a path of domination that put them on level with the exploits of the great West Indies side of the 80s and the Australian side under Steve Waugh.

Smith, who turns 38 on February 1, will be remembered as the skipper who forged a powerful side from the ruins. His Test career started off with a bang, scoring 277 and 259 against England in Edgbaston and Lord’s in 2003 but his captaincy records make him the original benchmark for success. His tally of 109 matches as captain makes him the only individual in the history of the game to captain a side in over 100 Tests.  He has the most runs, joint-most number of fifties and the most centuries makes him a bonafide legend. His captaincy stint is punctuated by the highs of securing a series win in Australia and England twice.

In 2008, in the third Test at Edgbaston, Smith smashed 154* as South Africa won a series in England after a gap of 43 years. More glory followed Smith and South Africa as his 108 helped South Africa chase down 414 in Perth against Australia, the second-highest run chase in history. Smith was at the helm when South Africa won in Melbourne to win a Test series in Australia for the first time ever. South Africa repeated the feat in 2012 in both countries and South Africa did not lose a single Test series anywhere in the globe for a period of nine years. In 2012, South Africa scaled the summit of Test cricket as they ended the year on top.

In addition to his captaincy, Smith’s contributions in the fourth innings of a chase marked him as a legendary skipper. His 125 against New Zealand in Wellington helped South Africa draw the series. His 154* in Edgbaston was historic and so was his knock at Perth. In 42 matches, he has hit 1611 runs at an average of 51.96 with four centuries.

However, in his period, South Africa’s failure to win a single ICC Championship increased and the tag of chokers only grew. They were beaten in 2007 by Australia in the semi-final, lost in dramatic circumstances in the 2007 and 2009 World T20, choked in the quarterfinal of the 2011 World Cup while they struggled in the 2012 and 2013 World T20 and Champions Trophy. In addition, he became known as India pace bowler Zaheer Khan's bunny, falling to him 13 times in international cricket across all formats.

The defining image of Smith, though, will be how he came to bat with a broken hand as he looked to save South Africa in the Sydney Test against Australia in 2009. For 26 balls, he batted with one hand and defied the Australian bowlers but the Proteas still lost the match with just 10 balls to spare. The image of Smith batting with one hand defines the legend of Biff, who in many ways is Captain Marvel.

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First Published : 01 Feb 2019, 02:59:19 PM