Kirsten: Biff best captain ever

2014-03-07 16:35

Cape Town - Gary Kirsten has called Graeme Smith the "greatest captain ever" in Test cricket following Smith's retirement from the international game.

Smith, 33, made this shock announcement on Monday during the last Test against Australia at Newlands. Australia went on to win by 245 runs to claim a 2-1 series victory.

For Smith it brought an end a career of 117 Tests, and 107 as captain of the Proteas.

He scored 9 265 runs, 27 tons and 38 half-centuries at an average of just under 49 with a highest score of 277 against England in Birmingham in 2003.

And Kirsten, who played his final four Test series under a 22-year-old Smith before coaching him in later years, said Smith is likely the best Test skipper ever in the history of the game.

"Is he the greatest captain ever in Test match cricket? In my view he must be," Kirsten told the ESPNcricinfo website.

"I don't think anyone had led as long. We know that. He has taken South Africa to great heights. The kind of success he has had, the kind of success he has taken South African cricket to, I would argue that he is the best captain that has ever lived."

South Africa's series loss was their first since 2009 and the Proteas still sit comfortably atop the ICC Test rankings.

CLICK HERE for the full story on the ESPNcricinfo website.


  • Hero-Gorha Madikizela - 2014-03-07 16:42

    Someone who has advance knowledge of the game and currently one of the best coaches in the world has said is that "Graeme Smith" is the best test captain, so those News24 readers who dont rate Smith should better start appreciating what the man has done for SA cricket. Graeme Smith the legend...

      Fritz Brits - 2014-03-07 17:23

      only one thing against him and that is dropping lance klusener at his prime

      KevinKing - 2014-03-07 17:54

      and the fact that Cronje and Pollock both have a better test record than Smith.

      KevinKing - 2014-03-07 18:12

      1. Pollock - W 53.85% D 26.92% L 19.23% 2. Cronje - W 50.94% D 28.30% L 20.75% 3. Smith - W 48.18% D 25.45% L25.45% ps. Thumbs downing fact is a crime.

      JamesBlacksmith - 2014-03-07 18:17

      @Fritz Bob Woolmer: "I can't really believe that Lance has not been selected to tour England," said Woolmer. "It was because of him that we got to the semi-finals of the 1999 World Cup in the first place. That man wins games for South Africa and then someone had the temerity to attack him at a breakfast." Smith: "To be honest Lance, as fantastic as he is, can sometimes ruin a team" I can only assume Kirsten also had a beef with Klusener, because it is farcical to say Smith was even a good captain. He was divisive, period. Finally, time to 'move forward in SA cricket' (sound familiar?)

      Lo Philips - 2014-03-07 18:17

      Agree hero. There is only one way to describe people like Fritz., TienieMac and KevinKing who always know better and never want to listen to other view points from experts and who do know better, ignorant idiots.

      Richard Barnes - 2014-03-07 18:27

      Kevin King, here's a fact for you: Biff twice led the Proteas to back-to-back away series wins in Eng and then Aus. Can you give us the figures for how Pollock and Cronje did away to Eng and Aus? Nobody said that Biff had the best winning record, nor that Hansie and Polly were useless captains. The fact is that all three captains had very similar win/loss/draw records. Hansie had an excellent achievement in leading the Proteas to a series win in India, which Biff didn't manage to do. But Biff is still the ONLY captain to lead SA to a series victory over Aus. And which is the side that most SA fans want to beat - India or Aus?

      KevinKing - 2014-03-07 18:39

      I'm just saying that it's "doubtful" someone's the best ever when others win more games.

      Hill Billy - 2014-03-07 19:23

      One day record as captain: Cronje: Played: 138, won 99, drew 1. 71% win Smith: Played: 197, won 115, drew 2. 7 No result. 58% win Didn't check where Pollock factors in.

      Jason Marriott - 2014-03-07 19:37

      Pretty difficult to say Cronje was a better captain when he was fixing games. Anyway S.Flemming regarded as one of the best captains of the modern game and he has a shocking record. Think it comes down to decision making and leadership qualities.

      Hero-Gorha Madikizela - 2014-03-07 19:45

      "I’ve no doubt that Graeme is the best captain South Africa has ever had, and arguably the world has ever seen. He will be missed."- Faf Du Plessis

      Richard Barnes - 2014-03-07 20:06

      Kevin, even if Gary is dealing in superlatives, and even if we tone down the hyperbole several notches, Gary would still be happy to state that Biff was a very good or excellent captain. Which is a far cry from the claims of "useless captain" made by many of Biff's detractors. One also needs to consider that Gary has a unique perspective. Not only did he play under Biff as a player, he coached Biff as a captain and also opposed Biff as coach of the opposition. No other cricketer can say that. So I would attribute a lot of weight to Gary's view. He saw and worked with all sides of Biff. Yes, it is hyperbole to state that Biff is the best ever captain. But that doesn't lend credence to the detractors' view that Biff was "useless" or "cowardly" or "counter-productive". Those views are based in ignorance, nothing more and nothing less.

      Michael Morris - 2014-03-07 22:04

      @KevinKing...a mark of a great captain is not only about how many games he won, but also how he lead his troops and about how he played the game. Hansie might have a better win percentage, by the smallest of margin I might add, but he got caught out about how he played the game and as a result he lost the respect of a lot of people. Hansie probably could have been the best, but he slipped up big time.

  • Andre Wagener - 2014-03-07 16:42

    Really, I don't think so. Clive Lloyd comes to mind, Ricky Ponting, Tony Craig etc, etc.

      Malcolm Andrew Coetzee - 2014-03-07 17:23

      It is easy to captain a great side. When Ponting lost his great players his captaincy was shown to be nothing special. I'm sure you could say the same for Lloyd. That said, I don't think Smith was even the best captain in his era. Stephen Fleming gets that one for me.

      Atholl Canterbury - 2014-03-07 18:56

      Malcolm certainly has a balanced view: Judging captaincy in sport is like evaluating an Army General's Military performance in Battle: ... the terrain (pitches/home/away), ....own resources(batting & bowling skills & 'soldier' experience), ... opposition army (their resources) ---> all weighed against the results (how many scalps (wins) / white flags(winning draws) / enemy flags planted (losses) The best Generals (when measuring true battle) have all come from New Zealand. --{ Martin Crowe, for example, extended his army in the '92 world cup with radical captaincy (open bowling with spinner - pinch hitter - slow/variable bowling (slower balls) rapid delivery (spinner delivers 6 balls in 3 mins)} The Flemming Army took over from the Crowe army ..... ... put differently .... where would the SA team be if they were captained by Mr Flemming ...?

      Richard Barnes - 2014-03-07 20:10

      Yes, Fleming for me stands out as the captain who was most admired during the recent/current era. During the Proteas tour of England in 2012, the SuperSport panel (including Jackers and Barry Richards iirc) discussed this issue of who was the best captain they'd seen. While several names were mentioned, Fleming received a unanimous vote as an outstanding captain.

  • Nettie Potgieter - 2014-03-07 16:44

    Jip and Zuma is the best president ever

      Richard Barnes - 2014-03-07 16:50

      Nettie Potgieter's knowledge of cricket versus Gary Kirsten's knowledge of cricket. I think this is what Americans refer to as a "no-brainer".

      Richard Barnes - 2014-03-07 18:13

      And, of course, you and Nettie have contributed far more to SA than Gary and Biff did. Jesus wept, talk about arrogance.

      Nettie Potgieter - 2014-03-07 18:56

      Thanks Jamba! Then millions people think Zuma is a great president that demonstrate how blind the people of SA is.

      Richard Barnes - 2014-03-07 20:20

      So who would be the best president, Nettie? And please substantiate your answer by outlining how your candidate would arrange the Cabinet. In other words, which Ministers should be replaced, who should they be replaced with, and what qualities/policies/achievements/qualifications do they bring to the post that would make them more suitable than the incumbents?

  • Vho Fix Nempandoni - 2014-03-07 16:45

    I still believe that BIFF had 1-2 years more to offer as a TEST CAPTAIN. Of recent we've seen that his leadership went a long way even though he wasn't getting the runs. CAPTAIN FANTASTIC!

      Nic Mechanic - 2014-03-07 20:45


  • Richard Barnes - 2014-03-07 16:46

    Oh dear, Gary, I don't think that's what the Biff haters wanted to hear from you.

      Nic Mechanic - 2014-03-07 20:43

      ha...ha...Richard...nice one....

      Sonny Jacobs - 2014-03-08 06:50

      Richard the knowledge of some of these people is limited so forgive them. Lance Klusener was not at his peak when dropped in 2003/04? He was in 1999 when Hansie was captain. He cost us the opening game against WI in 2003 as far as I amm concerned when he was caught at long on by Hooper. He saw Vasbert Drakes? move Hooper there but still arrogantly played it straight to Hooper leaving Boje 2 balls to get 6 runs if I remember correctly. But Biff will always be blamed.

  • Bernhard Bryan Baatjies - 2014-03-07 16:53

    LEGEND , YSTER !!!!!

  • Marius van der Walt - 2014-03-07 17:03

    To all the haters!!!!!!!!!!!! Listen to what a champion coach says!!!!!!!!!!

  • Belinda Clayton - 2014-03-07 17:34

    Smith was never best captain.a coward in my eyes

      Margaret Victor - 2014-03-07 17:53

      I wonder if you know anything about cricket Belinda

      Nkanyiso Nicky Lurwengu - 2014-03-07 18:07

      really?! Wow you just proved you know nothing about cricket. I bet you think Hansie Cronje was a better captain? I wouldn't be surprised.

      Emiele Spillman - 2014-03-07 18:12

      We all know why you hate Hansie hey? But I won't go there. Hansie was the greatest captain SA ever had and GS is not worthy in the same team.

      Nkanyiso Nicky Lurwengu - 2014-03-07 18:17

      Hansie was and forever will be a legend. But no way is he a better captain than Graeme Smith, Smith's record speaks for itself. Oh by the way smith didnt sell us out.

      Lo Philips - 2014-03-07 18:30

      Is this now the world according to garp?

      Michael Wingnut Campbell - 2014-03-08 10:12

      Oh ja Hansie "I sold out my country" was our best captain? Really? The guy not only was corrupt himself but he attempted to influence other young players in the team as well. He was despicable.

      Michael Clifford Georgopoulos - 2014-03-09 00:43


  • Margaret Victor - 2014-03-07 17:56

    There is no words to really describe Graham. Like the song will say that Tina Turner Sings.... Simply the Best, Better than all the rest. We will have to look hard to find one to replace him.

      Michael Clifford Georgopoulos - 2014-03-09 20:59

      Heaven help us!!!

  • Anele Booi - 2014-03-07 17:57

    Everybody knows Gary and smith are good friends best friends even, so he's objectivity is impaired

      Nkanyiso Nicky Lurwengu - 2014-03-07 18:03

      Did smith lead south africa to the top of the test rankings cause he was friends with garry kirsten? No. You just don't like Graeme Smith so seems like your objectivity is impaired. Name a captain who has a better captaincy record than Smith.

  • Hill Billy - 2014-03-07 17:58

    I'd pick Kirsten in a team before Smith any day.

  • Emiele Spillman - 2014-03-07 18:05

    Kirsten's personal and subjective opinion of his best friend. I lost ALL my respect for GS when he wasn't man enough to show up at SA Airport after we lost the WC a couple years back. (Or maybe he just wanted to be with his girlfriend - or maybe he just didn't care). Shows you what bad captain he was. Maybe he played good at times, but "captain"? Below average.

      Nkanyiso Nicky Lurwengu - 2014-03-07 18:13

      Subjective? You don't like smith so you being subjective. He asked for permission from team management to go to ireland after world cup before they even played that semi final game. Name a captain who has a better captaincy record than Graeme Smith? I thought so, no captain has a better record. You just admitted you don't like him, now look who's not being objective. you Hypocrite!!!

      Michael Morris - 2014-03-07 21:47

      Ah Shame Emile is hurt. Get over it.

      Michael Clifford Georgopoulos - 2014-03-09 21:01

      Agreed Emiele.....way way way below average!!!

  • toni.watson.169 - 2014-03-07 18:14

    Hear hear! The stats speak for it self.....

      Michael Clifford Georgopoulos - 2014-03-09 21:05 right Toni.........the Captain and Taniel...........chasing after a woman.....instead of bringing HIS TEAM home!!! don't worry Biffy........dit raak nie op nie!!

  • toni.watson.169 - 2014-03-07 18:14

    Hear hear! The stats speak for it self.....

  • lorenco.lewis - 2014-03-07 18:43

    thanx biff.

  • Ajesh Parumasur - 2014-03-07 19:57

    Biff is a plonker

      Sonny Jacobs - 2014-03-08 06:52

      We hear you Makwappa!

  • Bradley Craig Naidoo - 2014-03-07 20:40

    To all of us regular posters on this forum, please let me state this, as I used to to many junior cricketers with whom I've played with over many years : You can stick to a batter with all your jibes and chirps, while he's in... ...but once you've got his wicket, let him leave the field quietly... As a Smith detractor, I'll say that the stats are proof, from a win %age perspective, that Smith was never the greatest.. But he's out now, as many of us wanted. So let's leave him be..

  • Ron Hobson - 2014-03-07 20:44

    I tend to agree to take the rein at such a Tender age when South Africa was cying for leader up to now unbelievable!! Obviously not winning a CWC will also haunt Graeme.

  • musal - 2014-03-07 20:47

    Well done Graeme

  • musal - 2014-03-07 20:47

    Well done Graeme

  • Mike Bosman - 2014-03-07 20:53

    Smith has to be the worst captain. Just look at his toss decisions and then his field placings when things go bad. He simply didnt have a clue

  • grant.mcgillan - 2014-03-07 21:07

    Last week we had Tovey predicting a victory over Brasil and now this. Gary and Neil need help. Clive Lloyd for one makes Smiths record as Captain shallow. Clive lead superstars. Smith hid under one.

      Michael Morris - 2014-03-07 21:54

      Grant you just disproved your own point. Clive lead superstars. Smith had no superstars to lead. When he started we had very few senior players left. Shaun was a failure as captain. Our cricket was in the doldrums.. We had to build a team. I wonder how Clive's record would have been if he didn't have the superstars?

  • Ndabenhle Given Ngcobo - 2014-03-07 21:08

    Graeme is one of the greatest no doubt but not the greatest. He was fairly ordinary tactically.

  • Michael Clifford Georgopoulos - 2014-03-07 21:36


      Michael Morris - 2014-03-07 22:01

      Michael you chop. He left India because he wanted to have more time with his young family. I don't think he was planning on taking the SA Coaching job, but I think to coach the Proteas is a dream of a lot of ex-players. So he took it. When he resigned as Protea coach he reiterated that he wanted to have more time with his family. It was his original desire. If you want sensation go and watch the Oscar Pistorius trial.

      Darren Peach804 - 2014-03-08 11:35

      Hey, Michael. Smith has retired. Are you happy ? I see you are still hating as usual. I declare to my fellow News24 readers that you are a vindictive person that hates for no real reason. Every time I see a post coming from you, It's always negative. Get a life man. Troll.

      Darren Peach804 - 2014-03-08 11:37

      Yeah, And your caps lock is on.

  • John Snoopy - 2014-03-07 22:32

    Graeme smith was useless in the one day side, he choked and choked in big games, he should have played tests only and even then he wasn't that good. Gary Kristen is an idiot for saying something like that.

      Sonny Jacobs - 2014-03-08 06:54

      "he choked and choked in big games" hmmmmmmmmmmmm! Think that tag started under Hansie's reign? Correct? Richie Benaud coined it?

  • Thomas Mollett - 2014-03-07 23:19

    I don't want to argue who was the best captain EVER, as I (just as Gary Kirsten) have not seen all of them in our lifetime (and statistics alone really don’t count). The problem I rather have is, how you can compare captains across different eras? These days they play much more tests, the game changed, the international landscape is forever changing (where is the once mighty West India these days? for example), etc. It became a professional sport, players can in many cases play longer (top class cricket) due to improved training programmes, etc. How can you compare a captain who led a (more established) team in the 2000's with somebody who had to face the challenges just after readmission? Or even with those in the isolation years? I really think it is a senseless exercise to try and establish who was the best ever (same with rugby). Not taking anything away from Smith, but I think it was most probably a bit of an emotional and over ambitious statement by Gary Kirsten. (I'm sure another top coach will give you a different candidate.)

  • Darren Peach804 - 2014-03-08 01:06

    The Boss has spoken. No one dare disrespect Gary Kirsten. Legend. Finished and klaar !

  • MarkSchrade1980 - 2014-03-08 08:24

    He was such a good captain that he ran away to Ireland after the latest failure of a World Cup campaign in 2011, I lost all respect for him after that.

      Michael Morris - 2014-03-08 10:35

      This has been dealt with previously and a proper reason has been given by CSA, but, hey, nothing will deter the sensationalists of the world.

  • ravikesh.kalicharran - 2014-03-08 16:53

    Dare not argue with Gary

  • Alan Robertson - 2014-03-08 18:07

    Hansie cronje was our best test captain and johan botha the best one day captain. Both brilliant cricket tacticians...possessed s cricket brain. Biff improved with the yeats but did not have those skills...

  • Rian Botes - 2014-03-08 20:40

    Flem by a mile. He took NZ that is generally at the same level as most of our domestic teams, time and time again into semi-finals of all the major world competitions: CWC, Champ Trophy, T20. Under GRAEME SMITH 2004> Champs Trophy in England (lost in semi vs Windies), 2006> Champs Trophy in India ( lost in semi vs Windies), 2007> CWC in Caribean (lost in semi vs Aus), 2007> T20 in SA (could not reach knock-out stage), 2009> T20 in England (lost in semi vs Pakistan), 2009> Champs Trophy in SA (did not reach play-offs), 2010> T20 in Caribean (did not reach play-offs) 2011> CWC (lost in quarters vs NZ), 2013> Champs Trophy in England (lost in semi vs England). That is 9 World Events with-out a win. Semis reached = 5 Quarters = 1 Pool Stages = 3 Trophies = 0 KEPLER WESSELS (1 event) 1992> CWC in Austarlia (lost in semi vs England) HANSIE CRONJE (3 events) 1996> CWC in Pakistan (lost in Quarters vs Windies) 1998> Champs Trophy in Bangladesh (WINNERS) 1999> CWC in England (lost in semi vs Aus) Semis = 1 Quarters = 1 Trophies = 1 SHAUN POLLOCK (2 events) 2002> Champs Trophy in Sri Lanka (lost in semi vs India) 2003> CWC in SA (did not reach knock-out stages) Semis reached = 1 Trophies = 0 STATS DOES NOT LIE.

  • lizdon.ferguson - 2014-03-09 01:41

    I loved Hansie as captain

  • Bones Ladesh Tlou - 2014-03-12 21:46

    Who ever replaces him has big shoes to fill.

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