Graeme Smith proud of Proteas’ fighting spirit despite defeat

2014-03-06 09:06

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Outgoing Proteas test captain Graeme Smith, who appeared in his last test match, said the fight shown by the team on the last day was typical of the mentality of the team over the years as they have ascended to number one.

Smith said the team always found a way to fight and not give in easily.

South Africa lost the game by a wide 245 runs, but took the game deep into the final day after being 15/3 at one stage.

“We have become very good at not letting go. We were outplayed in this test match but we found a way of taking the game as deep as possible through determination, skill and the mental strength shown by the players,” Smith

“A lot of guys changed their game plans and it would have been a wonderful fairy tale had we been able to hang on, but I saw enough qualities in what the guys showed the Proteas will be really strong for a period of time. The strength of character we saw today is what this team is all about.”

There have been many highlights and lowlights in Smith’s career, but the one that will hang over him the most is the inability to beat Australia at home. Conversely, he won two out of three test series in Australia and he joked that they will always hate him for that.

“One of the disappointments is not winning a World Cup and once they do, they will go on and win many more. When they do so, I will be as proud as anybody. For the rest, I can be fulfilled. We won in England and won in Australia, and ticked some big boxes along the way,” Smith said.

“Not beating Australia at home has been disappointing, but to have won twice in Australia, I think it hurts Australia probably a bit more. I’ll take that as a positive.”

Meanwhile, victorious Australian test captain Michael Clarke said South African cricket will miss the colossal presence of Smith.

“I guarantee you South African cricket will miss Graeme Smith. He is a once-in-a-lifetime player and his leadership was phenomenal. Any player that leads from the front as an opening batsman like Graeme, you cannot replace that. He was what Ricky Ponting was to the Australians. That is how I see him,” Clarke said.

Clarke said he would have taken responsibility had his team not been able to take the game home. When South Africa drew with Australia at the Adelaide Oval, he gave the Proteas 148 overs to survive and they did the business.

He had fewer overs to play with in Cape Town, but had five fit bowlers to do the job. He said that Ryan Harris was a major difference between the draw and the win.

“I did not think too much about Adelaide, but I was questioning if I batted too long and how many more overs could our bowlers actually bowl. I would have been extremely disappointed if we did not get over the line. South Africa deserves credit for the way they fought. We can learn from them, but credit also has to go to our bowlers,” Clarke said.

“Ryan Harris is a one of a kind. He will walk through a wall for me and the rest of the team. There is no greater example of what we saw today. Once he gets on to the field, the pain is gone. I don’t know what he has done to himself. I don’t know how bad it is, but he just finds a way to bowl.”

Man of the series David Warner said he will not change the way he plays or approaches the game. His aggressive starts often unsettled the Proteas and his hundreds in both innings was the difference between the teams. He singled out Morné Morkel for the most applause.

“I didn’t know why he came over the wicket to me as he goes over the wicket to every other left-hander in the world. He felt that he could nick me off, which he did in the first test, but I always have the mentality of going after anyone who goes after me. I gotta get to him before he gets to me,” Warner said.

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