Sri Lanka in SA

Kirsten: Smith deserves more

2012-01-19 22:19
Gary Kirsten (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Proteas coach Gary Kirsten says opening batsman Graeme Smith has meant a lot for South Africa and deserves more time than others to find his feet.

The pressure is firmly on the former ODI skipper ahead of the fourth ODI against Sri Lanka in Kimberley on Friday.

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.

The 30-year-old's last ODI century for his country was against England back in 2009.

"He's going through a tough time and he realises it," Kirsten told Volksblad.

"There is a lot of pressure on him and he knows he has to perform. I also went through it when I played - I know exactly what it's all about.

"We have to give him as much support as possible in the team.

"He has always had an unbelievable presence in the team.

"From a captain's perspective he has brilliantly assisted AB (de Villiers). AB realises it."

Kirsten feels because Smith served his country as a leader for so long and has been the "face of the team" for years now, he might be entitled to more time as the rest to regain his form.

"He's currently going through a rough period and I believe he needs support," said Kirsten.

This comes after former Proteas convener of selectors, Mike Procter, criticised Smith's prolonged stay in the team.

Procter feels Smith's connections with his good friend 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 was quoted as saying on 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," said Procter.

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