Was I the only cricket lover in South Africa yesterday who was completely shocked by our captain’s decision to quit international cricket?
This man, this hero, this superstar of the game, suddenly, without warning, calls time on his starlit career. This giant of the modern game with is modern approach to fast-paced cricket, is suddenly no more.
After the whole Hansie debacle, those that followed in the wake could simply not fill the shoes to satisfaction. No disrespect to those that tried, but they just didn’t cut it.
Enter Graeme Smith. 22-year-old rookie, having enjoyed a few decent innings’ at the crease, suddenly catapulted to international fame and glory as he’s made captain of the SA Cricket Team.
Most young men thrust into that position would have collapsed into a miserable heap of mediocrity. Not Graeme, no sir! He not only steps up to the plate but delivers a series of sterling performances to silence his critics.
Most people don’t understand cricket like I do, I actually follow the game a lot closer than the groups of jolly and drunk hooligans braaing along the boundaries of a cricket ground.
The game is all about stats and facts. Let me educate you on Smith’s achievements:
Over 110 test matches and almost 200 ODIs
Almost 7 000 ODI runs and fast-approaching 10 000 test runs (why quit now, Graeme?)
Batting averages of almost 50 and 40 for test and ODIs respectively
A top test score of 277!!! The man’s a walking miracle!
Arguably, SA’s Cricket performances at World Cups have not been fantastic, but that wasn’t Graeme’s fault, that rot started long before he signed up. And as for the last World Cup when the cricket couch brigade of supporters had much to say when Smith didn’t come home with the boys but went to his lovely Irish lass instead? Well maybe if you were in his shoes you’d make the same call.
As someone who understands the nature and politics of global sport (not that I’ve ever played), I can understand Graeme’s preference to go spend time with his woman instead of returning home to a nation of ungrateful brats.
We’d all have much less to say I’m sure if we truly understood the burdens and expectations placed on the shoulders of our cricket captain.
Today is a sad day indeed. The heavens are open and tears rain down as a nation mourns the loss of the greatest cricketer to ever be born.
We salute our master and chief of cricket, we salute you Graeme Smith!