Graeme Smith’s last innings ends with a whimper

2014-03-04 16:22

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Australia: 494/7 declared and 303/5 declared (Warner 145 Rogers 39, Doolan 37, Smith 36*, Abbott 3/61, Morkel 1/67)

South Africa: 287 and 31/3 (Johnson 2/8, Harris 1/7)

South Africa needs 480 runs to win

Graeme Smith’s last test innings lasted a total of three balls as South Africa stared down the barrel in the final test.

Smith walked out to warm applause and a guard of honour from Australia as he came to the middle for the last time. That is where the generosity ended for the hosts as Australia set about the fragile-minded batting line-up.

While the shot-making looked very positive, Ryan Harris was getting the ball to talk and quickly took care of Alviro Petersen, trapping him in front with a nip-backer that stayed low.

It still left Smith at the crease but as has been the case during the test match, seeing out a Mitchell Johnson over has been a difficult case. He received one that got big on him and clipped it via his thigh pad to Alex Doolan at forward short leg.

It was a sad but apt end to a batsman who made a career out of batting ugly. The dismissal was fitting.

Dean Elgar completed a miserable test when he had his off-stump detonated by a Johnson fire-bolt on the stroke of tea.

David Warner’s total of 543 runs in the three-match series will take some overhauling, but his eighth test century will go down as one of his most important knocks, especially as it formed the platform from which Australia set South Africa 511 to win.

It was a punchy and confident knock that was indicative of his and his team’s confidence and dominance for the best part of the series.

His dismissal, trying to hoist one out of the ground only to find himself caught behind by AB de Villiers off Kyle Abbott, was a selfless one in trying to keep up the already sky-high run rate.

The rest of the batsmen in Shane Watson, Alex Doolan and Michael Clarke fell in the same manner. They knew that their job was done and it was up to the bowlers to finish the job.

They are only seven wickets away from completing their demolition job.

Meanwhile, Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat said the new test captain will be announced shortly after the test series.

“It is something that will be announced I think shortly after the test match has concluded. We are fortunate in that there is a T20 series to follow and we have an established captain in that format. The next test series is in Sri Lanka in July, so we have a bit of time and will give the selectors something to deal with,” Lorgat said.

“The board will ultimately ratify the appointment of the next test captain. It is a big appointment that we are talking about, with the board agreeing with the recommendation coming from the selectors.”

Lorgat, who was the convenor of selectors for the best part of Smith’s international career, said he had no qualms about Smith's untimely retirement, saying that every right minded sports person knows when it is time to give up.

He also said Lady Luck has smiled on Smith as he was able to play his last test at Newlands, which is his home-ground.

“When you wake up one morning and you feel that that is the end of the road for you, you share that with everyone who is close to you, which is his team. Once he shared it with his team, it was then communicated to the public,” Lorgat said.

“Sometimes Lady Luck smiles on people’s careers and also saying goodbye at Newlands is a very nice ending to his formidable career.”

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