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Thursday, December 15, 2005


Other Sport: Graeme Smith's part in the War of Words

It's funny how the media works, and Graeme Smith probably thinks the same. Not the people, just the 'system'. Internet sites, newspapers and radio stations need to generate news to stay in business, of course, but they wouldn't stay in business if people weren't interested in reading the news. Most cricketers and other sportsmen don't have the time or inclination to read news or 'comment' outside their immediate sphere of interest so when it is presented to them at a later date, it appears, to all intents and purposes, as fresh.

Picture: Getty Images
By Neil Manthorpe (15 December 2005)

Almost three months ago Smith said that England's Ashes triumph had contributed towards Australia losing their "aura of invincibility". Nobody outside of Australia took much notice at the time because they were too busy nodding in sage agreement at what appeared to be harmless statement of the obvious. But when the comments were presented to Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath once South Africa arrived in Perth, they were taken as a stinging, inciteful and personal afront by the great bowlers. And they wasted no time in hitting back with comments about Smith's big mouth and arrogant attitude. Actually, Smith has said almost nothing to contribute towards the 'war of words' which made the ICC so nervous they saw fit to issue a bizarre warning about players adhering to the 'spirit of the game'.

Fortunately, not everybody has taken the pre-series hype at face value. And anyway, hype is a good thing. It creates interest, sells tickets and keeps the game alive and well. But at least one former South African player, who has seen it all before, has seen it for what it really is. "The truth is I don't think Graeme has said very much at all since arriving in Australia. The comments that Shane and Glenn are referring to were made weeks, even months ago by Graeme and nobody even noticed back then," said an amused Gary Kirsten from Cape Town. "The media 'machine' in Australia loves a bone to chew on and they don't let go. But Graeme hasn't risen to the bait and that's a very good sign. He must just keep quiet and let his cricket do the talking," Kirsten said. "When I was still playing we knew that Steve Waugh thrived on a chirp, he loved the opposition having a word or two with him. We learnt a bit too late that we were better off saying nothing to him."

Not that Smith hasn't been outspoken in the past, of course. Like Waugh he prefers his cricket to played in a heated environment and he's not complaining now that he will face Australia - notably Warne and McGrath - in an environment that another former Protea, Allan Donald, describes as "potentially white hot." "Graeme is a very passionate and occasionally outspoken guy, and he can handle himself fine, but my concern is for the rest of the team," says Donald. "There are some pretty young guys in the team and even some of the older blokes haven't played in Australia before. Now they're feeling the heat of an Australian series and, deep down, I wonder if they're concerned that Graeme has turned the heat up even more."

Test matches at the WACA tend to be adrenalin-fuelled, fast-moving affairs with explosive moments occurring closer together than at most international venues. Once again, Smith loves that idea and when he helped create the team's new motto of 'brave cricket' back in August, it was partly with Perth - and the rest of the Australian series - in mind.

But whereas Donald fears Smith may have intimidated his own team-mates with the level of his bravado, one of his predecessors as national captain, Kepler Wessels, wonders whether it may all be part of Smith's grand plan to protect his more vulnerable men. "He has set himself up as this macho, take-it-on-the-chin kind of captain who leads from the front. He will face the sternest test of his life in Australia with that leadership style but, maybe, part of the plan is to deflect all the Aussie aggro towards himself and away from his team mates allowing them to play their normal games," Wessels said. Whilst stopping a long way short of optimism about South Africa's chances, Kirsten can't help remembering the last time Smith was the subject of such strong pre-tour hype: "The last time Graeme had so much pre-series banter was in England in 2003 and he started with back-to-back double hundreds," said Kirsten. "I'm sure he won't do that again but he does respond positively to this sort of stuff. I don't know, but the Aussies might just be distracting themselves."

Warne and McGrath, Ntini and Pollock; Hayden and Ponting, Kallis and Gibbs. They could, and probably will, have a say in the outcome of the series, but Graeme Smith may just hold the master-key. For many, many reasons besides his bat.

Neil Manthorp is a South African broadcaster and journalist, and head of the MWP Sport agency

Thanks to Wesley for keeping an eye on the cricket for us!
wpw organises sex tours for old German men  

Sorry Davids jumped the gun on me with the arti.

No worries.
Howzit brick  

Going well. Loves this site. Checking out still, but I like. Tell me a little how you guys got the idea and how it started.

PS. How do you guys get picks and stuff up?
Boy these Aussies are arrogant. I really wish we shut them up.

Hopefulle Greame can carry his good form into the test series and Rudolf as well.
Did any of you guys see what the plonker called Shaun Pollock had to say? He reckons it's a good thing that the ICC is making the rules about sledging clear, because the Aussies take it to far and some of his own team mates as well. What a pussy. He should take it and give iot back. Just more ammo for the Aussies to use against us. That's why I never rated him as a captain. He has no balls. Sledging is part of what makes test cricket better than one day cricker. It's a pshychological war out there. You need to be mentally strong to match these okes in Oz.  
Oh and I think Greame Smith is the best captain in SA for the heated environment in Oz, he will not stand back for them, He'll give it back to them twice as hard as they give it to them!  
Pollock is not being real bright... he shouldve been dropped ages ago. i bbet if we looked at his figures over the last 3 years or so, it wouldnt be that great and prove that he needs to retire from test cricket... Imagine a bowling attack of :
Ntini, Nel, Zondeki, Langeveldt, Steyn and Kruger... All these guys are fast and will do much better than what Pollock is doing at the moment...

I buy your point on Pollock being stale-

but- with the necessary provisos & quid pro qo's- ala theGenie from the lamp

1- the Aussies smaak unbridled pace- hence Ntini always very expensive- but as attacking spear- will get wickets

Nel- not that pacy- but can trouble the lefties- also hardegat enough

Langeveldt- I really rate him- good swing bowler- but pacy?

Zondeki & Steyn will get slaughtered by the Aussies- Decent pace- not enough variation

But on polly- if he does not produce- this should be his swansong

I'm with you.

I never rated this pussy as a skipper. He wilted too easily. He never lips the batsman and he wilts when the pressure is on. That's why he never bowls at the death in ODI's. If you're desperate for a wicket and the game is on the last oke you want with a ball in hand is Shaun Pollock.

Oh and he should be first change (3rd or 4th). The fact that he still takes the new ball with his medium pace crap is a damning indictment of our cricket allowing players to play on reputation alone.


Langeveldt averages in the upper 130's at pace so he's quite nippy.

His pace is not his prime weapon and he is by far the slowest of the bunch- excluding pollock

I rate him- and will pick him unless -form lost/injury- because he adds a much needed variation to our attack

remember the context of my post was on Wes crit of pollock who will average 125-130(there is no use for an containment bowler and Pollock is not the all-rounder, Kemp is.) I agree on that- but Langeveldt is no pacer- we need speed consistantly 148-155 to kill by pace alone- otherwise the boys will play a lot of "fetch" down under.
I totally agree, he needs to shape up or ship out. I dont care if he took nearly 400 wickets in tests, if he doesnt perform he needs to be dropped... I cant believe a guy like Boucher is still in the team either, he has cost us so many times and he has a stinking attitude as well.

I remember him swearing at Makhaya once when he threw a ball in from the boundry. the throw was a bit too low and Bouch swore at him. Everyone who watched the game on TV could clearly hear... He is so windgat and overrated it is unreal...
On the wicket-keeper issue

Boucher is there because of his bat

Keeper-wise i am with DavidS- would have loved to see Pothas given a proper chance

This is the wrong series to give Tsolekile the gloves- but I rate him as the best keeper

getting rid of both Pollock and boucher from the batting line-up, that will maybe lose us games as well.

On Boucher...ja

I once saw him spill a simple throw in that would have given a run out and Pollock, the skipper shouts "AAArrrrggghhh"

Says Boucher: "Why don't you do it yourself then Shaun...for fucksdakes..."

Guy shouldn't be in the team. He was an experiment that never came good. He was selected as 'a youngster with talent' and above Steve Palframan and Nic Pothas at that stage.

He's just never delivered.


Pothas was a vastly superior batsman to Boucher. Dropping him means we can make AB De Villiers a wickie. He's considerably better and he chirps a lot more to the batsmen. This will allow us to have Jacques Rudolph and Jacques Kallis in the middle order beffed up with Gibbs and Ashwell Prince.

As an aside, personally I don't agree with Kemp in the test matches.

AB is a better batter than both Boucher and Pollock together...

And Boje should be out too. If Johan Botha was good enough to play in India against India, then he should have been on this tour. The pinnacle of hardcore tours are India and Australia. If he's good enough for India he should be good enoigh for Australia.
Agree on AB- but should he open & keep?

Boje is no attacking spinner- but again in the side for his all-roundness- lol at least he is fit:-)

Our fragile batting and obsession with a long batting order may help us not to lose too may- but does not help us getting the 20 wickets- in order to win
On Botha- how many tests did we play in India?  
ab can slot in anywhere in the batting line up, i would love to see JR and GS opening with kallis coming in at 3, gibbs 4 and AB 5, or swop gibbs and AB even.

on rudolph, according to news 24 he will only play if kallis does not pass a fitness test.
and smith reckons the aussies are scared!  
Kallis- not to bowl a lot either
AB- gloveman- so lotsa love in SA
Kemp (pick someone that is better)
Pollock ( last chance)
Touche OO

I get it on Botha, but Kallis debuted against Australia


De Villiers
Andrew Hall
Pollock (agreed OO last chance otherwise Steyn / Zondeki)
Boje (also for now, but eventually Botha)

My boet was at school with Andrew Hall.

Hardcore boy. Remember he got shot in a hijacking and came back to play international cricket. Just as competitive as Nel, and even more aggressive.

He has taken a fifor against Australia, made runs against them, hates them with a passion and he's lost some weight, gotten fitter and added about two yards to his pace.

He is a actually a MUST HAVE for any game against Australia because he would complement the skipper's combative attitude

Remember he made a 150 opening for SA against India earlier this year ...
andrew was the best backstop in action cricket - he is a hard bastard.  
calmed down since he got married though  

You picked someone better

Go with Hall

Imagine Hall & Pothas batting together!

They did a couple of times when both were young and when they played for the Strikers.

Bliksem on those days we had Hall, Pothas and an ageing but still effective Richard Snell at the lower order

It used to be pure carnage when you had the three click...

His boet was at achool with me, Brian. Played hooker. Built like a brick and a more than useful opener at school. Played for the Southern Transvaal High Schools Cricket team.

Anyway, Andrew was the soft version of the old tree.

They're all hard hard boere thugs.

Yes, he is as Afrikaans as Also, OO, Donner and I
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