Smith: I need to score runs

2011-09-13 17:15
Graeme Smith (File)
Cape Town - Graeme Smith was frank when he said he was looking forward to working on his batting and making his fair share of runs for South Africa this season.

Having held the fort for so long as South Africa's captain and key opening batsman in all formats, Smith starts the summer as only the Test captain and with some question marks over his form, although his record remains outstanding.

New coach Gary Kirsten is in no doubt as to how important Smith is in terms of the team's strength.

"Graeme has been in that captain's seat for eight years and it takes its toll - it's a lot of responsibility. But it's very important for South African cricket that Graeme Smith scores a heap of runs," Kirsten said at Cricket South Africa's season launch.

There's no doubt that a long off-season and his recent marriage have mentally refreshed Smith and the big man is starting to bestir himself for the summer ahead.

"We're heading into a tougher period of training ahead, but I'm really excited even if I don't really enjoy this pre-season time as much as just batting in the nets. The Cricket World Cup was tough, but I've had time to regroup and I'm looking forward to performing in a way that makes South Africa proud," Smith said.

The left-hander alluded to the extreme pressures of captaincy when he said he was looking forward to having more time by himself to work on his batting.

"I'm looking forward to being a bit more selfish, just working on my game. I want to produce my fair share of runs and I hope I bat better this season. I'm doing the work now to achieve that and I'm focused on performing in all formats of the game."

Smith stressed, however, that he still had plenty to offer the team as well, especially in terms of experienced counsel to the two new leaders in the squad - AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla.

"My main role is to provide strength to the batting department, but if AB or Hashim need me, I am an experienced campaigner and I will be there for them. But they are two wonderful cricketers and I'm sure they'll do an outstanding job," Smith said.

For Kirsten, the new summer and new leadership in the national team is an exciting prospect.

"Everybody is just itching to get out there and play and the new management and leadership makes it an exciting time. It's fantastic that Graeme is still the test captain, so he can help AB develop as a captain, which is very exciting and a very important role," Kirsten said.

Another major difference to the South African side this year will be the absence of logistics manager Goolam Rajah, who has done such a fine job with the Proteas for close on 20 years.

The man chosen to manage the ICC World XI teams in 2005 has retired and was quick to joke that with him out of the way, maybe their World Cup curse will end!

"When I started managing the Proteas nearly 20 years ago, I had one thing in mind: that it was all about the team and what value I could add. I retire with no regrets and now I can spend more time with my children, who I haven't seen for the last 20 years, I didn't see them go through varsity. The boys are my second family, but now I'm going back to my first family," Rajah said.

"I'm used to another way of life, my wife has to tell me that the toothbrush goes here, not there. But which wife would allow her husband to be away for 20 years?

"Maybe the Proteas will now win the World Cup with me out of the way! But whenever they need a geriatric to bail them out, I will be there."

Read more on:    proteas  |  graeme smith

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