Another Smith 100 - no ordinary ton
During his near ten years as captain of the South Africa cricket team, nobody can ever describe Graeme Smith as being lukewarm or tentative towards his duties.
Right from the beginning of his tenure, he has tackled the job with great gusto and enthusiasm to the point sometimes, particularly in his early days, where he has made big errors that have brought the wrath of the country’s cricket fans upon him. While this may be seen as a couple of blotches on his record, really it illustrates to what extent he has had the courage of his convictions.
When the phrase “to take the bull by the horns” is used, many a time it is a rather loose description of something but in the case of the national captaincy, it’s fitting as it is a rather large beast that one must be willing to grapple with and try to subdue. Hence the need to take ownership of the reins; it is the only way to give oneself the best chance to make it work. It was needed when Smith took over and it’s exactly what he did.
The path that Graeme Smith has followed has been his own; he has to some degree been a trailblazer with how he has achieved what he has along the way. To now be the man who has led in test matches for the most number of times is quite remarkable. It has been a long time, but it seems like just the other day that he was the brash young man elevated to the helm at a time when South African cricket was in crisis. On the field he has led from the front, letting his performances do the talking and inspiring his teammates to follow his example.
He has been ever present really and it is impossible for many to envisage a time when he no longer will be leading the Proteas out onto the test match arena. It is not for a little while yet that a successor needs to be sought as Smith is only 32, but thoughts do need to go in that direction so that the next man does not get thrown into the deep end in the same way that Smith was. Not many would be able to handle that. Whoever is to follow will have big shoes to fill and the least that can be done is to make sure he gets a decently laid out start.
Of one thing there will be no doubt, Smith will go down as South Africa’s greatest captain -- never mind being one of the country’s great players. It is an assertion that will be contested by various people but when all is taken into consideration, this man has contributed hugely to South Africa and world cricket. His feats have been sometimes quite unfathomable and the ship he has steered, particularly in the test arena, has sailed quite successfully despite a few icebergs along the way. Yes, his has been a titanic contribution to the side achieving big things...I hear you thinking; what about an ICC Trophy? Well, imagine how much more grand a legacy he would leave.
Stephen R Covey encapsulates the feats of Smith when he says, “I am convinced that one man can be a change catalyst, a transformer in any situation, any organisation. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage and faith to be a transforming leader.” It is high praise, I know, but it is deserved.
So, as the cricket fraternity congratulates South Africa’s captain on yet another ton, let it be known that this is not just another century. In fact, it is an exclusive club of just one. It may well be another winning hundred as so many have been.