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South Africa will be the real test for Indian cricket team, says Graeme Smith

Greame Smith believes that a win against South Africa will establish the Indian cricket team as the best in the world.

cricket Updated: Aug 27, 2017 23:29 IST
Shalini Gupta
Shalini Gupta
Hindustan Times, Cape Town
Graeme Smith,Indian cricket team,South Africa vs India

Former South Africa captain Greame Smith will be in charge of Benoni Zalmi as head coach in the T20 Global League. It will be the first senior-level coaching post for the 36-year-old who retired from international cricket three years ago. In a chat with Hindustan Times, Graeme Smith says he will be open to coaching SA at some stage.

Excerpts

Q: How does it feel to be appointed coach? What have you been busy with since your retired?

I am excited. The offer came at the right time and I wanted to do it with full commitment. I led the South African cricket team for eleven long years. I wanted to give time to my kids and wife. I was also interested in developing certain businesses and had also been busy with conducting public speaking.

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I was also doing cricket commentary for radio and television. After a break of three years, I feel refreshed to have a go at the sport I love the most. South Africa is a bit late in launching its own T20 league, but one will feel the hype when it gets rolling. I could have played cricket for a bit longer. But my family needed me, so there are no regrets.

Q: Faf du Plessis says you are one of the players he looks up to. Cricket South Africa is looking for a change in the coaching department. Would you be interested in becoming the SA coach in the future?

I captained South Africa for more than a decade and all the Amlas, ABs, Steyns and a few others started under my leadership and grew into world-class cricketers. It was an honour to have such players in the side and get a chance to groom them and be their mentor. I have got experience of building an environment for grooming cricketers. I will definitely consider the offer of becoming the SA team coach down the line. It will take time.

Q: With AB de Villiers quitting ODI captaincy, do you think Faf du Plessis is the right person to lead South Africa?

Faf is doing a wonderful job as captain in Tests and T20Is. He is growing in stature. But I think leading in all three formats can really wear you down mentally. My advice for him will be to lead in just two formats. It can really be stressful and take a toll on the mind. With so much international cricket happening these days, leading the national team in all formats can be really demanding.

South Africa's AB de Villiers plays a shot during the third Twenty20 match against England. (AFP)

Q: South Africa had a dismal outing against England in the Test series. Do you think South Africa cricket team is in a rebuilding phase?

It was disappointing to see South Africa fizzle out against England and also in the Champions Trophy. I do not know what happened, maybe it was due to the fact that coach Russell (Domingo)’s tenure was coming to an end. There are a few youngsters in the team and some who have been there for a long time. They need to bridge the gap between international and domestic cricketers. SA are in re-building phase, but with more exposure they will be fine-tuned.

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Q: The Indian team travels to South Africa on a long tour for four Tests, five ODIs and three T20Is. Do you think it will be the strongest Indian team taking on South Africa on their home soil?

India have been doing quite well in Test cricket. A lot can be attributed to how Virat Kohli has been playing Test cricket and inspiring team-mates. I think the conditions in South Africa will be very different and western for the Indian team. They have been playing either at home or in Sri Lanka and the Caribbean where the ball comes a bit slow. The conditions in SA will be the real test for the Indians.

Q: What would be the key for South Africa team against India?

It would be interesting to see how Indians fare against SA bowlers like Rabada, Morkel, Philander and Keshav Maharaj. Also, having Dale Steyn back in the side would work for the SA team. He has done well against the Indians and having his experience would mean a lot for SA. I think SA batsmen will have to score big. The batting department looks a bit unsettled. Also, the combination SA chooses will make a difference.

First Published: Aug 27, 2017 23:29 IST