Cape Town – There is an additional incentive for the Proteas
to target a clean sweep when they play the now dead-rubber third Test against
Pakistan at Centurion from Friday.
Should they win and ensure a 3-0 series outcome, their
“Captain Incredible” Graeme Smith will become the first international leader
ever to secure 50 wins for his country.
As it is, Sunday’s hard-earned but still admirable
four-wicket victory at Newlands propelled him to a new record 49 triumphs in
charge – eclipsing the prior mark of 48 achieved by Australia’s recently
retired Ricky Ponting.
VIDEO: SA v Pakistan second Test day 4, highlights
Personal and team milestones have come thick and fast for
the big left-hander over the last few weeks, making it pretty difficult – by
his own admission – to sometimes find the right words to describe the feeling.
He will instead talk, understandably, of “just enjoying the
moment” and the like.
Smith has currently experienced 49 wins, 26 losses and 26
draws in charge, a 101-match leadership tally that includes the reverse
suffered by his Rest of the World XI when they played then-mightiest Australia
in the ICC SuperTest at Sydney in 2005/06.
His win/loss ratio (1.88) is not nearly as impressive as
those of either Ponting (3.00) or his Aussie captaincy predecessor Steve Waugh
(4.55) but they mostly commanded the Baggy Greens’ troops in a genuine heyday
for that team, and the very fact that Smith will be first to 50 victories
(perhaps as early as the looming weekend) is an outstanding feat whichever way
you look at it.
“Biff” has had a 10-year reign at the helm, during which his
side has been through various periods of transition and upheaval, but now he is
set to only keep improving his win/loss ratio as the present Proteas squad embarks
on an era of likely, consistent conquest.
Ponting (2004-2010) led the Aussies in 77 Tests, with 48
wins, 16 defeats and 13 draws, whilst third-ranked Waugh engineered 41 wins
from only 57 games in charge (1999-2004), with nine losses and seven
A South African predecessor to Smith, the late Hansie
Cronje, lies seventh on the world list for most wins as skipper – 27 from 53
games at the helm (win/loss ratio 2.45).
*The portents for the home side to win the Centurion Test
are good: the Proteas have only lost once in 17 Tests at SuperSport Park, and
that was the highly controversial, artificially-induced result involving agreement
between Cronje and England captain Nasser Hussain in January 2000, when innings
forfeitures took place after significant rain delays during the match.
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writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing