Smith still Proteas’ true leader in one-day cricket

Johannesburg, Jan 27(ANI): Graeme Smith is still the best leader in South Africa’s one-day squad despite not being the official captain of the team, according to senior cricket writer, Rob Houwing.

“Graeme Smith is clearly the natural and most suitable leader but just not actually captain. That is the slightly strange (his admirers might still insist illogical) dynamic in the current, imperfect South African one-day international team,” Houwing wrote in his column for Sport24.

“Of course the Proteas do need to keep the future in mind, particularly as “Biff” turns 32 on Friday, the very day when he leads out a Test team for the 100th time when his country embarks on the first encounter with Pakistan at the Wanderers,” he added.

“The beefy left-hander also deserves, frankly, the opportunity to focus more single-mindedly on his batting, at the very least in the limited-overs arena, and not have to obsess as much about such issues as field placements, bowling changes and the diplomatic cares that go with captaincy,” he further wrote.

Houwing added: “But there is also a slightly uncomfortable feeling about watching the present Proteas teams, in the two shorter versions of the game, go a little erratically about their business in those environments while AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis cut their teeth as skippers and make errors.”

“Everything about him just oozed leadership and responsibility, really, as his 10th ODI century provided the all-important foundations for the Proteas’ last-gasp triumph through Ryan McLaren’s unlikely, delightfully innovative paddled six off James Franklin,” he added.

“Many critics have always been curious about whether Smith would actually be able to make the rare switch from skipper to ordinary soldier, given that he was so born to leadership,” he wrote.

“The answer is probably yes and no. No, in the sense that all too often he continues to look the most comfortable man in charge, even if no officially so, and yes because we may be seeing encouraging fruits at the crease from his very relief from the captaincy portfolio,” he added. (ANI)