Graeme Smith: Love him or hate him, he is a great player

Our first guest writer here on SA Sports Blog, David van der Merwe, shares his thoughts on South Africa’s Test captain, Graeme Smith.



Graeme Smith is probably one of the cricketers that everyone in South Africa has an opinion about and every opinion differs. Some love the guy and believes he is the best thing after brown bread. Others can’t stand him. In the end most will agree that he is a brilliant unorthodox player.

I for one never really like the guy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognise his great ability as a leader and batsman. I remember the day he got appointed as captain of the Proteas. My dad, not a cricket or sports fan for that matter, asked me what I thought about his selection as captain. I said that he might be to young but that he should be given a chance to prove himself. And prove himself he did.

Smith, only 22 at that stage, went on to break various records and became the best test captain South Africa has seen. He has captained the team in 102 matches and won 50, lost 26 and drawn 26. Even the great Ricky Ponting has won only 48 matches as captain.

His recent lack of form has however prompted many to get on the bandwagon of slating him. Yes his batting is not what it should be, but many top players has gone through that. As captain I sometimes wonder what happened to the young guy that took chances and created results through that.  But as one matures you get more cautious.

I still wonder if he should not have declared earlier against India in the test at Newlands and pushed for a win instead of a draw. Then again it could have cost us the game and series. As South Africans we would have gone after him with pitchforks and burned him at the stake. Because of the draw we still did.

Graeme Smith will never be one of my favourite cricketers, but then Michael Schumacher was never my favourite F1 driver. It did however not take away my respect for his brilliance or performance on the track. Nor should my dislike of Smith take away from the fact that he is a brilliant player and leader. His record will speak for itself when he is no longer a player and people will talk of him for years to come.

Career statistics
Competition Test.     FC.   ODIs.    LA
Matches.       110.    150.  190.     251
Runs scored. 8,753 12,02 16,917 9,185
Batting ave.  48.62 49.87 39.07   39.93
100s/50s.      26/37 35/48 10/47   14/66
Top score.     277     311    141      141
Balls bowled 1,418  1,786 1,026   1,968
Wickets.        8         11      18        47
Bowling ave. 110.62 102.9 52.83   38.21
Best bowling 2/145   2/145 3/30     3/30
Catches.        160     218    102      132

Smith holds the world record of captaining in most test matches (102–101 as captain for South Africa, and 1 for ICC). This record seems to be a difficult record to break as the next player on this list who is currently playing is Dhoni with 43 matches as captain.

Smith holds the world record of highest number of wins in test matches as a captain with 50 wins.

Smith holds the most number of centuries (15) by a captain in test match wins.

He also holds the world record of a non-wicketkeeper taking most catches (82) in test match wins.

Fastest South African cricketer to reach 1000 test runs.
As of 24 February 2013

Like what you’ve read? Check Dave’s own blog out: and follow him on twitter: @djvanman


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