Sunday, August 3, 2008

Graeme Smith

Firstly, let me put it out there. Up until a few months ago I was not a Biff fan. I thought he was an egotistical control freak. The way he handled himself and the stories emanating from the local press made it easy to dislike Biff.
This all changed a few months ago. I read an indepth interview by Neil Manthorp where the real Graeme Smith came across for the first time. This article explained a lot for me and made a whole lot of sense.

Graeme or Biff as he is known, took over the proteas at the tender age of 22. A young man who had to jump into the deep end and take a struggling SA side to England on his first tour as captain. That tour to England was (until yesterday) Biff`s finest. He scored 2 double hundreds in consecutive tests and made a ton of runs.
BUT, the tour also established him as a brash youngster on the world stage. His tactical nous was questioned by all the pundits, his comments to the press scrutinised and his relationship with other international captains became strained. Stephen Flemming once mocked Graeme by mimicking him in celebrating a catch. Nasser Husain called him "whatsisname".
The Graeme Smith who has been leading the Proteas the last year or so has not been the same kid who took the job at the tender age of 22. The Biff who has been the leading the team has turned into a tactically astute captain, probably one of the best in the world today. A man who is at ease with both himself and his place in the team, a leader who men happily follow due to the example he sets. When we were teetering on 90/4 yesterday who did you want to bat? I only wanted one man there cos I knew if anybody had the stomach for a fight it is Biff.
What transpired yesterday was one of the best innings ever witnessed in international cricket. Biff`s 154* was an unbelievable effort when seen in the context of the match and more importantly the series. The odds were certainly stacked against him. No team had ever scored more than 280 to win in the 4th innings at Headingley. Monty Panesar was spinning the ball a mile from the footmarks. Andrew Flintoff was bowling with everything he had. The pressure was immeasurable. South Africa won the test and the series because one man had the grit to take it upon himself to win. He did not stand back and confronted the English team head on. They were the ones to blink, Biff never wavered.
Biff came full circle when Michael Vaughan called his innings "one of the most special ones you will ever witness" and said that Biff deserved "all the praise that was going to come his way". Big words from a losing captain. Big words from a captain who was to resign the next day.
Today we are a very happy nation. We have tasted a series win in England for the first time in 43 years. That is older than I am! One man`s courage made it all possible.
When the cricket transmission went back to the studio last night, Robin Jackman couldn`t talk due to the emotion he felt. Tears welled up in his eyes and he was speechless for a few seconds. Keep in mind that Robin played test cricket for England and then see the significance in the emotion he felt. He looked like a proud father.
Biff, I am sorry for doubting you. Enjoy the win and the adulation because to coin a phrase "you deserve all the praise that is gonna come you way".
Your Proud Fan


Kevin Davis said...

I wish I had any idea what this sport is about, but I would love to play it. Thanks for adding me to your blog roll - of course I don't mind - actually I love it. Take care and I'll be checking back.

Francois said...

Thanks for popping in Kevin, great to have you here. Don`t worry, cricket isn`t the main topic, so hopefully the other posts will be more interesting!

God bless