Port Elizabeth - South
Africa captain Graeme Smith has advised counterpart Brendon McCullum to
block out "the noise" of criticism surrounding New Zealand cricket.
his 10th anniversary in charge of South Africa's Test team, Smith said
on Thursday that McCullum's "strength of character" and ability to
ignore the criticism would be crucial to the tourists' hopes of battling
through one of their lowest periods - which culminated in being bowled
out for 45 in an innings loss in the first Test at Newlands.
teams at opposite ends of the rankings and their development face off
again in the second Test in Port Elizabeth starting on Friday.
settled and top-ranked Proteas are expected to seal a series win over
an inexperienced and rattled New Zealand recovering from what coach Mike
Hesson referred to as a reality check in Cape Town, and unsettled by
renewed criticism back home of its management.
backed McCullum, an experienced cricketer before his promotion to Test
skipper, to be able to handle the difficult situation in the buildup to
the second and final Test at St. George's Park.
think the key is when there's a lot of noise around you is to focus on
how to get your team through that noise," Smith said. "Keep them focused
on what's important and get the cricket side right."
has recently had the significant advantage of leading a group of
players possibly at their peaks, with fast bowlers Dale Steyn and Vernon
Philander, all-rounder Jacques Kallis and batsmen Hashim Amla and AB de
Villiers delivering regularly strong performances to take South Africa
to series victories in England and Australia last year and the top of
failing Test form was exacerbated by the unpopular decision from Hesson
and the selectors to strip Ross Taylor of the captaincy and promote
McCullum to lead a team of young players.
first decision as new skipper was to bat first at Newlands, where his
side was bowled out for 45 in less than 20 overs and lost by an innings
and 27 runs, unleashing another wave of criticism from New Zealand's
"A game like
that always gets you to ask questions when you've been beaten
comprehensively," Smith said. "It's never easy as a captain. You carry a
massive load, especially in those situations. You have to front up ...
and that creates a lot more pressure on you and certainly he (McCullum)
will be feeling that.
certainly been there in my career. Obviously it does grow and get a
little bit easier. I think that inner strength of character is crucial
at those times. Trying to keep a level head around your team, not get
too emotional, is a crucial factor in those situations.