Second Test – Day 2: Imagine Smith in a baggy green!

Australia 550, South Africa 2/217.

During those long hot summers of our adolescent back-yard cricket matches, my mates and I would sometimes hypothesise about which non-Australian player we wouldn’t mind seeing pull on the baggy green cap. I always mentioned Ian Botham: forceful with both bat and ball, not inclined to put in the hard yards in the nets, always up for a beer and a ciggie. To me, he was far too much of a rogue to be a Pom. There were others too: Imran Khan (how good would it feel to see him walking out to bat with the Aussies at 5 fa not many?), Lance Cairns (the unorthodoxy of  both his bowling and batting had an Aussie roguishness about them), and of course any number of the early-80’s era Windies stars. I was given pause to revisit those childhood speculations as South African skipper Graeme Smith began compiling run after run on Day 2 of the Adelaide Test. I actually began wishing that he was Australian.

When Michael Clarke’s epic knock came to an end early in the day’s play, it was the signal for a not entirely unexpected batting collapse. Save for James Pattinson’s entertaining 40-odd at the death, I was inclined to think that if not for Clarke, the Aussies would be in a world of pain right now. (With all due respect to Mr Cricket, he did have the distinct advantage of arriving at the crease at 4/210 after Warner and Clarke had savaged the Proteas attack). Still, it’s like that old saying involving your auntie, your uncle and a set of testicles. If, if, if.

Smith looked determined from the start. Determined to cash in on an Adelaide track resembling Anzac Highway. Determined to make up for twin failures in Brisbane. Determined to atone for some “interesting” bowling changes and field placements which assisted in Australia dominating day 1.

After the embarrassment of being out-thought by Pattinson in the second dig at the Gabba, it was Graeme Smith back at his imperious, unflappable best. Ignoring the on-field chatter, infuriating his opponents by challenging – and successfully overturning – a caught-behind decision, Smith was rock-solid and unperturbed by anything going on around him. Even Alviro Petersen’s wasteful self-sacrificing of his wicket had no effect on his countenance. A missed stumping chance by Wade was the stroke of luck he needed to push on and further get under the skin of the Aussies. I really enjoy watching him bat. And take perverse delight in how he raises Australian hackles.

Commentators were continually speculating as to the captain’s thought processes might be. It’s simple, you buffoons! He just wants to accumulate runs!

What I admire most about Smith’s technique is that he plays within his limitations. He does not pull or hook, because he does not trust himself to play those shots well. He has an ability to turn over the strike, so he never seems to get bogged down. He looks happy just to graft and nudge the ball around. And to keep the scoreboard ticking over. His driving is good, withouit being spectacular. His form has not been the best over the past couple of years, but now he is back in peak form. And that is a real concern for Australia and opponents elsewhere. When he is in this mood, Smith is a colossus at the crease.

The result of this match may well depend on how quickly Australia can dismiss Graeme Smith on Day 3. Until then, I’ll keep wondering how good he would look in a baggy green cap.

 

About Darren Dawson

Always North.

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Smith has had an interesting (read testy) relationship with the Aussies since he first played us. He may not be the first they’d invite to wear the baggy green. :)

    What a turn around it was yesterday Smokie! It makes you wonder what was going on with the Saffas on day 1.

  2. JB,
    You are correct – not too many of the Aussies would be inviting Smith to play for Australia. But I am sure there is a very healthy respect for the way he goes about his batting.
    Having said that, he was apparently a very popular team-mate when he played IPL.

  3. Peter Flynn says:

    I have been watching ORF recently.

    I have to agree with Mark Doyle on this one.

    Media buffoons and ignorant opinion abound. I am sick of it.

    I am glad I support Rapid Vienna. They are not a garbage club.

  4. What did i hear, that if Smith scores a ton, South Africa don’t lose. 25 tons, 17 wins, 8 draws, It might be time he scores a ton in a losing team .

    Glen !

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