Smith back biffing it
Cape Town – More than a month after his short-lived but famous innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Proteas captain Graeme Smith is back hitting a cricket ball.
Smith attended a Cape Cobras net practice at a warm and breezy Newlands on Tuesday, in preparation for the Standard Bank Pro20 first leg semi-final against the Dolphins at the ground on Friday.
It was his first net session since the finish of the dead-rubber Test against Australia at the SCG on January 7, and his stroke-play timing, understandably, was not “all there”, but at least he got through unscathed after his dual wrestle for several weeks with knuckle and tennis elbow problems.
The big left-hander took respective turns in the Cobras spinners’ and seamers’ nets, with the bowling troops including veteran Warwickshire and ex-Boland left-arm paceman Neil Carter.
“Biff” later practised his front-foot driving, in particular, in a throw-down session with young Cobras player Stiaan van Zyl.
Smith told an unusually swollen media corps afterwards: “I did feel a little bit rusty, I guess. It was about getting confidence and movements back today. As the day’s gone on I’ve felt more and more happy.
“The knuckle injury has healed nicely and feels pretty much 100 percent. Obviously taking another blow there would be rather sore! And I’ve just had a period getting over the bruising from a second (blood) injection in my elbow.
“It’s just about hoping it holds now; taking it as it comes as I have. If I need to go for surgery further down the line then so be it.
“From what the doctors say, you can’t really do long-term damage. If I need the surgery then it’s just about taking the required three months in a big enough break from cricket. Hopefully that comes anyway in (the winter).
“I’ve done everything they’ve asked me to do and so far so good.”
Asked whether preparing for the home Test series against Australia via the Pro20 format was problematic, Smith replied: “Look, it’s probably still better preparation than I’ve had for the last few (international) series … for me it’s just nice to be with the Cobras at an important time for them. It would be wonderful for the franchise to make the final.”
Cobras coach Shukri Conrad was happy to have Smith back in domestic business.
“In Graeme’s own words, he was slowly working on his shape again today, but I think he showed he’ll be fine come Friday.
“The good thing about having him around is that he immediately brings a hardness, a toughness to the practice. He will lead the side against the Dolphins and quickly made it clear what he expects of the guys.
“We haven’t seen much of him in the past two years, of course, but he slots in as if he’s never been away. He’d already popped his head around the door in a couple of the (Pro20) games he wasn’t yet involved in, so he’s up to speed and he’ll be hitting it sweetly himself again shortly, I’m sure of that.”