Biff: What a comeback

2011-11-11 14:35

Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Severely threatened by follow-on and possible humiliation just a day earlier, Proteas captain Graeme Smith has hailed the eight-wicket first Test whipping of Australia at Newlands here on Friday as “one of the great Test comebacks”.

Smith, who absolutely thrives on fourth-innings challenges and once again raised a firm middle finger, as it were, to his critics by helping lead the surge to victory with an unbeaten century, said afterwards that Shane Watson’s bowling performance on Thursday’s dramatic day two had helped his own side suddenly lift their game.

Watson grabbed five for 17 as South Africa crashed to 96 all out in their first innings, but then Proteas debutant and later man-of-the-match Vernon Philander, a not dissimilar type of seamer, even eclipsed that with his own five for 15 as the Aussies were ripped out for a dismal 47 in their second knock.

“After lunch yesterday Watson bowled extremely well, got the ball to talk, and we learnt something from it: he was very tight on off-stump and there was probably enough movement either way to create enough chances so we really focused on that, coming out to bowl again.

“The execution and the way we responded was terrific ... it’s so easy when you’re some 190 behind to just go through the motions. Twenty one for nine ... that was an incredible sight out there. I don’t think I’ve seen a scorecard like that since I was a young schoolboy.

“We never expected 21 for nine ... there’d been some joking about rolling them for 60 or 70 and nobody probably believed it! We showed the team’s character the way we did bowl.

“When we selected Vernon we were hoping for something like this. I’ve known Vern for a while and his first-class record has been terrific, especially over the last couple of years. He brings control to the pack and he has a bit of mettle; gets stuck in.”

Asked by Sport24 whether he coaxes some special extra quality out of himself in fourth-knock pursuits, Smith said with some modesty: “I think probably I got the best time to bat on day three, with the sun out. There was obviously a bit of pressure, but I’d felt good in my first innings (of 37, the top score) with everything I was working on coming together.

“Today it was about being (stoical) in that first hour and then playing from there – Hashim (Amla, who scored 112) certainly played supremely well and took a lot of the pressure off me.”

The big left-hander admitted he had experienced a “tough six months” of off-season, after having further surgery and then things not especially going his way at the crease. His array of detractors had stayed on his back, too.

“A lot of people have stood by me and worked with me, which I’m grateful for. Hopefully I also won over a couple of people today – playing for South Africa still means an awful lot to me. This innings was right up there in terms of personal (satisfaction).

“One or two things (from his critics) hurt a lot ... some things were very personal and crossed the line a lot. But that’s the nature of the job; I just had to knuckle down. It’s been a big battle to get the confidence and self-esteem back up ... that’s been a massive challenge.

“Cricket had kept its foot on me at the start of the season and I just kept working hard. Today was the reward I can hopefully build on.”

*Follow chief writer Rob Houwing on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • Michael - 2011-11-11 14:42

    Whats this biff sh1t? they trying to give him a nickname like beast?

      fishycraig - 2011-11-11 14:47

      Yep, they are. Mostly because he was out there playing his heart out while others (won't mention names) were espousing their frustrations and inadequacies on this forum.

      Yusuf - 2011-11-11 15:16

      he was called biff all along michael

      Derrick - 2011-11-11 15:16

      He has been known as Biff his whole career when Beast was still a Zimbabwaen-Wake up

      Joseph - 2011-11-11 15:29

      In fact since his school days: - 4th paragraph

      Gareth - 2011-11-11 15:44

      Thank goodness we finally beat Australia at something! It was a long time in coming especially after the horror shows we had in this year's Tri-Nations and Worldcup disappointments against this nation from Down Under.Amla rode his luck a few times being dropped twice and still going on to make a hundred! What's the deal with the 11/11/11 superstition and standing on one leg? I see Vernon Philander is in the top 50 for test bowlers aswell,well done lad.Kallis lost his number one ranking for batting getting his first duck since 2007,nearly four years ago and scoring just two unfortunately in the 2nd innings,but Smith and Amla rises up into the top 10 for their individual hundreds: 1. 880 K.C. Sangakkara 938 v England, 01/12/2007 2. 873 J.H. Kallis 935 v New Zealand, 18/11/2007 3. 823 A.N. Cook 836 v India, 10/08/2011 4. 822 I.R. Bell 823 v India, 18/08/2011 5. 806 S.R. Tendulkar 898 v Zimbabwe, 21/02/2002 6. 798 S. Chanderpaul 901 v New Zealand, 19/12/2008 7. 790 G.C. Smith 843 v England, 14/01/2010 8. 782 H.M. Amla 842 v India, 14/02/2010 9. 776 I.J.L. Trott 856 v Sri Lanka, 26/05/2011 . 1. 902 D.W. Steyn 902 v Australia, 09/11/2011 3. 776 M. Morkel 776 v Australia, 09/11/2011 28. 498 J.H. Kallis 742 v England, 21/08/2003 49. 311 V.D. Philander 311 v Australia, 09/11/2011

      roboman1 - 2011-11-11 16:38

      So where are all those Graeme Smith bashers now hey? Grat batsmen under pressure. Still not the kind of guy I want to share a beer with, but hey who cares, he is the best opening bat we have, and he proved it yet again. I said yesterday that Graeme came into this match with a batting average of 50.3 for his last 12 tests, and he just showed all those negative critics who really know very little about cricket obviosuly, who and what he really is. The best opening bat SA has had in years! And well done to Amla too, although he was dropped twice , he kept his composure

      Gestoffle - 2011-11-11 18:41

      @michael - you a right royal pr@tt - what is Hobbo Jnr on your FaceBook profile then? Who gave you the right to call yourself that ? - Bah humbug!

      Leon - 2011-11-12 09:33

      November 10, 2011 at 16:33 Report comment Like i said the Chokers should be boooed from the pitch. People go and spend money to buy tickets just to see how their team choke. Fire them all. Kirsten can't work with these overpaid useless players. The bowlers did the hard work and then this....... FROM ONE OF THE IDIOTS YESTERDAY

  • fishycraig - 2011-11-11 14:45

    Well done Graeme and the rest of the team. Just gotta ask why we are being shortchanged having only two tests. Oh right... Money and the IPL.

      Yusuf - 2011-11-11 15:39

      this agreement between the two countries go way back.we will go back to aussie to play two tests there

      Johan - 2011-11-11 16:03

      Like Yusuf said, I remember Australia (or their Cricket Body), earlier this year, refused to play cricket away during the December/January window (it's their cash cow period). That's why we only have half a tour. India will be touring Australia after this if I'm not mistaken. Though I also agree that they could have squeezed in another test, but maybe that's because when we tour Australia for the "other half" tour, there will be less time. And we all know that the Aussies will be up in arms if we get 3 tests in SA and they only get 2 in Aus.

      Jaco - 2011-11-11 21:52

      have to agree. World championship has a lot to do with it. But two great sides are forced to play "warm up" tests for the summer season. To be honest, they've goy it completely wrong. Would rather warm up against SL, and then have FOUR tests at least vs Aus. ICC makes no sense....

  • martin.gee.godfrey - 2011-11-11 14:50

    Credit where it is due, Smith showed what he is capable of in a test match. Methinks he should concentrate on test cricket only, (despite his historical statistics in the shorter game) it's common knowledge that once he gets in, he is very hard to dislodge.

      martin.gee.godfrey - 2011-11-11 15:07

      You don't have to agree with me but if you give me a thumbs down, come up with a counter argument. Personally I rate Smith as a test player and feel he is no longer up to the one day and T20 format. And don't use stats to justify why he should be there as his recent form has been woeful.

      Johan - 2011-11-11 15:44

      @FerretGee - I also think that he should focus on test cricket. I've been thinking it for a while now. Smith has the tendency to lose his wicket unnecessarily in the shorter format, because he wants to attack too much. His record in tests speaks for itself. I also think that's why he chose to stay on as the Test captain because that is his main focus. Good job Graeme (and Amla of course). Also, the bowlers did play their part, with the ball and the bat. We will never know how important those last partnerships between Steyn, Vernon and Tahir were. If we had failed to avoid the follow-on I think the result would have been quite different. Congrats Proteas. Great game.

      John - 2011-11-11 16:10

      Until a better opener comes along in the shorter format Smith is the answer. I think a lot of SA stars waned in the WC but he has been singled out. Anything over 40 in the shortened format is pretty good.

      Johan - 2011-11-11 16:18

      @John - That's true. I just believe he plays his best cricket (compared to others) in test cricket.

  • Brainbow - 2011-11-11 14:52

    The character of a great man and an exceptional leader. Well done Graham!

      Yusuf - 2011-11-11 15:17

      i fully agree

      Johan - 2011-11-11 15:51

      Indeed, he has taken so much criticism recently. What a way to silence them. I just hope he can follow this test's perfomance up in the next one. Good luck !!

  • Wimpie - 2011-11-11 14:54

    well done !!!!

  • Ben - 2011-11-11 15:21

    Where's all the douchebags that was flaming him yesterday on these boards?

  • pule.bokgwathile - 2011-11-11 15:32

    graeme is still going to break all sorts of records top players like tendulkar, ponting and kallis reached their peak at around 32 years and biff only turned 30 this year, imagine what his record is going like in 4 years time

  • Gary - 2011-11-11 15:36

    Agreed a PHENOMONAL performance WELL done guys!!!

  • Johan - 2011-11-11 15:39

    mmm im happy for the team, even though the pitch helped a bit, real test is next week. hope they carry the momentum through.

  • Shirley - 2011-11-11 15:41

    Well done! To all the haters and debaters-the proof is in the pudding! Gary Kirsten must be on cloud 9-a victorios test and a new baby girl! Congratulations all round!

  • Wendy - 2011-11-11 15:56

    My boy!!!!!!!!! Knew you still had it :-)

  • heinrich.beukes1 - 2011-11-11 15:58

    I think what we all learned out of this match is that we shouldn't criticize until the match is over. I thought we did horrible when we were bowled out for 90 something but then when Australia got out I realized with shame that they didn't play so bad. I personally think there was nothing wrong with the pitch but guys have become used to batting friendly pitches and don't know how to bat on a bowlers pitch. The 2nd innings from South Africa showed exactly just that point. I believe that Smith still has a lot of cricket in him and that he shouldn't open on the ODI's but rather come in at 4 or 5 when play has calmed down abit. Anycase I am happy that we won!

      Derrick - 2011-11-11 16:31

      I take my hat off to you- there are literally dozens of fair weather supporters who were knocking the boys yesterday- ( Andre- you used up so much space- how does humble pie taste )

      Grant - 2011-11-11 17:59

      There wasnt anything wrong with the pitch, but it offered just enough to amke it lethal. Usually, a "bowlers wicket" will swing and seam so much that every second ball is a play-and-miss. On this pitch, it swung and seamed slightly less, so instead of the batsmen missing it altogether, they manage to get a nick! Seriously - take note in the next game how many play-and-misses you see, and think to yourself "if the ball had moved just an inch less, would we have got the nick?" :)

  • Sabiha - 2011-11-11 16:02

    I have always been a smith supporter, he just makes my day extra special cos all his critics just hide away. Plz continue the good form.

  • granville.paulse - 2011-11-11 16:17

    For what's it's worth, the Windies ibowling us out on the last day in Barbados when we just needed 70-odd with 9 wickets in hand was the greatest come-back. They saved what ended a 15 year unbeaten series record.

      Shirley - 2011-11-11 17:40

      You are a sad person!

      Grant - 2011-11-11 18:02

      So taking 9 for 70 on a 5-day-old pitch is more of an achievement than taking 10 for 47 on day two with all the critics against them??

      fishycraig - 2011-11-11 18:41

      And you support the All Blacks... You're a dime a dozen.

  • Barry - 2011-11-11 18:55

    At least we did not lose. :) Seems it was like a game of roulette. So this match does not give any credibility to the skills of the players in my opinion , on either side.

      fishycraig - 2011-11-11 21:39

      Oh grandma Barry... Is nothing good enough for you?

      Barry - 2011-11-12 10:59

      @Fishycraig Cricket global image is not where it should be. This match confirmed it. I am sure the sponsors of this match are a bit peeved as well. Who can say confidently this match was not rigged ?

  • John - 2011-11-12 10:39

    amla is one of the sweetest batsmen ive ever seen

  • Shirley - 2011-11-12 11:10

    Barry who can say confidently it will rain tomorrow? I suppose there have to be some wet blankets in the world. Are you by any chance a short person?

      Barry - 2011-11-12 11:19

      Hi Shirely. No I am not a short person. Why do you have thing for short people ?

  • Shirley - 2011-11-12 11:37

    Barry: not realy.The reason I asked is a lot of short people seem to compensate either by negativity or anger. Sorry I was wrong, you are a tall person who is negative. LIke I said there always will be a few wet blankets. A bit of advice though, Ive learnt that to lighten up once in a while and enjoy the moment is very elevating!

      Barry - 2011-11-12 12:50

      @Shirely. Thanks for explaining. Yes, no doubt I am negative about cricket. It has been proven globally that results are influenced by money under the counter. Even South African and Australian players have been proven to have taken bribes in the past. It is part of the "game". I am allowed to have my opinion as do you.

  • Shirley - 2011-11-12 13:31

    Barry: that you are! And so am I!

  • pages:
  • 1