It’s going to be interesting if Australia don’t turn it around: Graeme Smith

Graeme Smith
Graeme Smith. (Photo by Carl Fourie/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Graeme Smith, the former South African captain, who knows a thing or two about beating Australia in Australia, indulged in psychological warfare against the Australians by stating that Australian skipper Steve Smith will be under pressure to turn the tide. Australia is on a 4-match losing streak in tests with their latest defeat coming at home against the touring South African side which is without AB De Villiers.  This defeat came after they drew a blank in the five-match one-day series against the same opposition in South Africa. Prior to that, Sri Lanka whitewashed Australia in the three -test series in Sri Lanka.

Smith was inducted as a Bradman Honoree alongside former Australian cricketer Bill Lawry at the annual Bradman Foundation gala dinner at the SCG on Wednesday night. Smith said that Australian selectors might think about the option of having David Warner as captain if Australia continued to slide.


Smith was quoted as saying, “I think that’s the next debate in Australian cricket — who should be captain. The brash type of David Warner,or Steve Smith. It’s going to be interesting if Australia don’t turn it around.”

Graeme Smith sympathized with Steve Smith stating, “Smith is young in the job and I think he deserves an opportunity to grow and develop, but if you don’t grow and develop, patience at that level is very short. People want results and want to see the team develop.After Pup there seems to have been an abrasive culture, a polarized culture under Michael Clarke — you just have to pick up a newspaper or a book these days to understand that. Smith is obviously trying to rebuild that space and he’s probably going through a fair amount at the moment.”

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Smith also spoke about how he had a discussion with the present captain Faf Du Plessis on Australia’s struggles against spin. “I’ve never found Australia to be great players of spin. Their nature is always to try and attack spin and they attack spin by using their feet to try and hit you over the top,” Smith said. “They’re not great manipulators of the ball, they don’t rotate the strike well.”

Smith,who masterminded triumphant tours in 2009 and 2012, confessed that he got emotional every time he thought about the Sydney Test in 2009. Trying to save the test, Smith came out to bat as the last man with a broken hand. Australian crowds are known to be very rough to the touring players. Smith won them over at Sydney by putting his body on the line for his team. They were all up on their feet applauding when he made his way out as the number 11 batsman.

He said that he was honored to be recognized for it last night, especially in front of his parents.

“I don’t think I’m an emotional person by nature, but I feel quite emotional about it,” he said.

“To get the standing ovation when I walked out with a broken hand, it felt like for me it turned a big corner in the respect factor from my first tour. You don’t come to Australia to be loved, you come here to earn respect and I felt that at the time I had done that.”

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All these quotes obviously didn’t go down quite well with the current Australian captain who responded to the jibe from Graeme Smith with a straight bat as he said, “I’m not sure what Graeme Smith knows about Australian cricket. He obviously wasn’t involved in it. I think the team is in a good place at the moment, we’ve got a good culture, built on constant improvement and getting better. The guys are in a good place, we’re a tight-knit group and we’re ready to hopefully turn this around this week.”

Steve Smith had come under fire from the Australians as well, notably Shane Warne. The genius leg spinner questioned Smith’s tactics of not using Lyon during the first session of the pivotal third day at Perth. Again Steve Smith defended his tactics by saying, “Warney’s entitled to his opinion, but I stand by the way I did things,” he said. “We saw in that game that the reverse swing was the biggest player in the game and it was the decision to be made whether the quicks were going to do the job and get the ball reversing.”

Steve Smith though conceded that his team had not performed to its potential at Perth and voiced that his team-mates are raring to have a go at Hobart. “We’ve not been good enough and I guess for me it’s about making sure that the guys are upbeat and ready for the challenge out there in the middle,” he said. “We’ve prepared very well like we have for every Test match. The guys feel like there are in a good place so it’s about going out there and making sure that we get the job done.”

Now that Steve Smith has done the talking, it is time to walk the talk at Hobart.