Pakistan v SA

Biff goes ahead of Border

2010-11-12 18:05
Graeme Smith (Gallo Images)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Proteas captain Graeme Smith etched his name significantly deeper into Test cricket’s record books on Friday.

Smith notched his 22nd century (exactly 100, off 152 balls) in his team’s first innings on day one of the first Test against Pakistan in Dubai, with the South Africans piling up a menacing 311 for three – and the “bat first safety net” target of 450 looks as though it should be a relative formality to pass.

It was a typical, lead-from-the-front performance as he and opening partner Alviro Petersen weathered some early peril - the latter almost certainly nicked behind on five but incredibly Daryl Harper kept the finger down - before amassing 153 runs together, and the platform was further built on by the ever-metronomic Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis.

The alliance was the second best upfront for the Proteas against Pakistan, although still a long way behind the 368 between the very Smith and Herschelle Gibbs at Newlands in 2003

Smith is a hefty fellow, of course, but he had his dancing shoes on: his feet “worked” extremely well against a spin-dominated Pakistani attack on the batting-friendly but abrasive track which could offer a serpent’s hiss or two down the drag as the desert sun bakes down on it.

And an illustrious landmark or two accompanied his vigil at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

In posting his 13th Test ton on foreign soil, he moved into joint third position with compatriot Gary Kirsten and Australian legend Neil Harvey for that milestone among left-handers.

The leader is West Indies’ Brian Lara with 17, followed by Allan Border of Australia with 14.

But if Border remains a whisker ahead of Smith in that department, he has now surrendered a more significant record to “Biff”.

The Cape Cobras player has moved to 6,664 runs as Test captain (79 of his 87 caps come in that capacity) which noses him ahead of Border (6,623), who previously held the record for most runs by a skipper in this distinguished format of the game.

Only two of Smith’s 22 Test centuries came ahead of his elevation to captain as a 22-year-old some seven years ago.

He can certainly be branded an exemplary “road warrior” for the Proteas, considering that his Test average outside South Africa is 55.26, compared to 45.95 within our borders. (Of course some allowance must be made for the fact that South African tracks have tended to be a little spicier than most abroad.)

Not too far off his 30th birthday, Smith’s appetite for heavy scoring in the five-day game shows few signs of abating – he has “come off” to a strong extent in all of his last four Tests.

The period includes an innings of 90 at Port of Spain, 132 at Basseterre, 70 at Bridgetown, and now the 100 in the maiden Test at this venue in the United Arab Emirates.

Read more on:    graeme smith  |  pakistan  |  proteas

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