Sri Lanka in SA

Friendship saving Smith?

2012-01-19 07:50
Mike Procter (File)
Cape Town - Graeme Smith's struggles for the Proteas continued on Tuesday when he was dismissed for only two runs in the third ODI against Sri Lanka in Bloemfontein.

Smith's form in one-day cricket this season is woeful. In six innings he has mustered only 116 runs at an average of 19.33. His form over the last few years is also not much to write home about. In 2010 he averaged 32.80, in 2011 27.93 and his 2012 average currently stands at 12.

In contrast, Smith's opening partner, Hashim Amla, now boasts more centuries than the former skipper despite playing less than a third of the amount of games Smith has played. Amla has 9 centuries in 54 ODIs, while Smith has eight in 178 matches. Since Smith's last century in 2009, Amla has already notched up eight.

And former Proteas convener of selectors, Mike Procter, believes reasons other than form and talent alone have prolonged Smith's stay in the national side.

Procter feels Smith's connections with his good friend and fellow Capetonian and coach Gary Kirsten are keeping him in the side.

"I think Graeme Smith is lucky to have kept his place in the one-day side, especially if you’re looking to the future," Procter told the Business Day website. "He’s slow between the wickets and he isn’t a good fielder."

"Gary has done a great job and he has created a great vibe, and the team are playing excellent cricket under him right now.

"But I know Gary and Graeme are big buddies, and that was always going to be the problem when Gary was appointed - there wasn’t a big enough gap between him playing in the side and him becoming the coach," Procter said.

"The Proteas are playing with such intensity at the moment, and that’s when you want to blood some new talent. It’s an ideal opportunity to say goodbye to Smith as a one-day international player."

However, despite his recent slump and Procter's criticism, Smith's immediate future in the Proteas' ODI team looks safe.

New ODI skipper AB de Villiers said he feels Smith will soon hit top form again.

"He currently doesn't have a lot of confidence. But I believe Biff (Smith's nickname) will hit back with a bang," De Villiers told Volksblad.

"He has enough experience and I expect him to find himself amongst the runs very soon.

"We all know he's under a bit of pressure but that's part of the game.

"All of us have had a bad run of form and know how it feels. All that we can do is to support him. I can tell you that we all support him 100%," said De Villiers.

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