The Graeme Smith Appreciation Thread (From an England Fan)
Thought I'd start this thread to praise Graeme Smith on what an exemplary display of not only leadership, but sportsmanship and determination he has displayed this summer. In the programme I received when I went to day 1 of the Oval Test, it had a picture of something called "Smith's secret fridge notes" which is a sheet of paper he stuck on his fridge when he was 19 that someone managed to get hold of, showing all his short, medium and long term goals in his career and his life - there were about 15-20 things on the list, and he has already accomplished every single one of them, the last of which was captaining South Africa. That man is more driven to succeed than anyone I have ever seen. Not only that, but he would not appear to have let his determination to succeed affect his character one bit. He has led his team brilliantly this summer, and has dealt well with the fact that they did not enjoy the success they deserved for some excellent performances. They would have won at Edgbaston if not for the rain, and could quite conceivably have passed 700 in their first innings (if not for day 2's abandonment) - thanks largely to Smith's incredible 277. They crushed England at Lord's and Headingley, and did not disgrace themselves in the matches they did lose, despite the loss of several key players at various points over the summer. Over the course of this summer he has been inundated with media interference, along with rumours of a split in the camp after the ODIs, and his handling of the media has been akin to that of a man who has been captain for 6 years, never mind 6 months. There is a certain Steve Waugh-like intensity to the way he does everything - the way he encourages his players in the field, the way he bats, the way he is relentless in his pursuit of victory, the way he talks passionately to the media about his captaincy and how much it means to him - all the actions of a man who is 300% confident in his own ability to lead his side to victory. I have been fortunate enough to meet the man twice this summer, after the tour match at Taunton where he scored 152, and after day 1 at the Oval. On both occasions he has been friendly, courteous, and more than willing to sign autographs and socialise with the public - even encouraging his less accommodating team-mates (cough....Charl Willoughby...cough cough) to do so. And the guard of honour his team formed for Alec Stewart was one of the greatest displays of respect and gratitude towards a fellow sportsman and for his achievements I have seen. I am only 16, and therefore look forward to growing up with the career of a man who is just about the ideal role model for young cricketers worldwide unfolding before my eyes. Thank you South Africa for providing World Cricket with a future giant of the game, and thank you Graeme Smith for providing English supporters with a wonderful summer of Test cricket. OK, this post has gone on far too long - I'll shut up now.