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Thursday, June 20, 2024
Graeme Smith

Graeme Smith

Age 43South AfricaSOUTH AFRICA
Left Handed Batsman

The turmoil of the match-fixing saga that rocked South African cricket at the turn of the century was still wearing off when Graeme Smith made his entry into the Protea national team. Under the captaincy of Shaun Pollock, South Africa suffered yet another setback in the 2003 ICC World Cup that they hosted. Pollock's resignation saw the rise of South Africa's greatest captains till date, Smith was handed the captaincy at a young age of 22. His captaincy and batting eased into a hand-glove combination for the team.

In the 12 Test innings leading to his captaincy since his debut in 2002, opener Graeme Smith had already amassed scores of 200(his maiden Test ton) against Bangladesh and 151 against Pakistan. In the 22 parallel ODIs played during the time, he scored six fifties with a high-score of 99 against Sri Lanka. He didn't stop there, his best was yet to come. During South Africa's tour to England in 2003, he scored his highest Test score, 277 in his very first innings on English soil. An 85 in the second innings of the same Test was followed by another double century in the next game in which he scored 259. The world knew that a new force was here to stamp his authority. His dominant start gave no impression of beginner's luck or momentum carried on from a purple patch. The international circuit seemed Smith's habitat since day one.

When the inexperienced Smith was short-listed for captaincy and then appointed, criticism from various circles sprung into limelight. However, leadership triggered Smith to greater heights. En route, he also clinched a few individual records, elevating his batting performances to historic levels. ODIs reaped better results, most notably a historic 434-run chase against Australia in 2006. Seven Test series wins on the trot and a semi-final berth in the 2007 ICC World Cup led to the halting of South Africa's ebb. In the longer version, an away series draw in India failed to replace their opponents as the top Test playing side. Smith then stepped down as the T20I skipper in 2010, and also gave up his ODI captaincy post the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup. However, he continued to captain South Africa in Tests. He has also been a part of the IPL, first representing Rajasthan and later moving to Pune. More fame was in store for South Africa under Smith when the team toured England and beat them in a Test series to snatch the number one spot from their opponents and have it for themselves for a long time from there on. During the possession of the coveted position, Smith completed his 100th Test as a South African player as well as captain. It all came thick and fast for Graeme Smith. In modern-day cricket, no player ascended from being a 21-year old debutant to permanent captaincy by 22, after featuring in paltry eight Tests and 22 ODIs. Yet, it all worked out, restoring South Africa's high levels on the international stage and being one of cricket's most dangerous batsmen.

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