England in SA

We deserved the win - Smith

2010-01-17 19:25
The Proteas pose with their trophies. (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Graeme Smith was a happy man at the end of the fourth Castle Lager Test against England at the Wanderers on Sunday, after his team beat the visitors by a thumping innings and 74 runs to level the series and retain the Basil d'Oliveira Trophy they won in England in 2008.

"We could have been sitting here three-up," he said. "We lacked knock-out blows in Centurion and Cape Town, and England played very well in Durban, but it was great to play such convincing cricket here at the Wanderers. We really dominated the game and came out deserved winners.

"We certainly were the team that was hungrier coming into this game, and we played that way.  In the player group, there's a real drive to be better. We've dominated three of the four Tests and we knew what we had to do coming here. I'm really proud of the way the guys performed.  It could have been easy for us to run out of puff after Cape Town, after having given so much, but each guy bounced back and was hungry to perform."

Smith had high praise for his bowling attack, spearheaded by the joint men of the match, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.

"Dale's performed unbelievably well for a period of time, and deserves his ranking (as world number one), and he's really led our attack well. Morne, coming back from being left out of the side, working on his game, and coming back a far better bowler, has really done well in the series, and deserves credit for that.

"(Wayne) Parnell's 20 years old, he's on debut and there's a lot of learning for him to do, but to have two spearheads with pace and bounce, it really does look great."

Smith said it had been good to play on a wicket with pace and bounce.

"It was nice to have a wicket that didn't fade away, like the wickets at Newlands and Centurion," he said.  "The other wickets got slower and slower as the game went on. This wicket, it was nice to see the ball going through to the keeper."

He said 2009 had been a disappointing year, but that he believed 2010 was kick-starting a new period of good cricket.

"We've started in a really positive way with a very good Test in Cape Town and and an even better one here."

He said the competitive nature of the series was very good for Test cricket.

"The last ten Tests we've played have been against top Test nations. It's been competitive and that's what people want to watch.  If you have top teams playing against each other, there're going to be ebbs and flows and teams will push each other right to the end.

"I think it's a credit to both teams the way this series has been played. It's been great for the game."

As happy as Smith was, England captain Andrew Strauss was disappointed.

"It's been three and a half frustrating days for us," he said.

"When you lose four wickets in the first hour of a Test match, it's always going to be hard to drag it back. All credit to South Africa - they never let us back in the game.

"They kept the pressure on us after lunch, and then with the bat, they built a sizeable lead.

"Steyn and Morkel were excellent on this wicket, and we were below par -we didn't play as well as we should have done.

"It's a disappointing end to the tour. But I don't want to lose sight of the fact that it's been a successful tour, and we've made improvements in the course of the 10 weeks we've been here.

"We've shown a lot of resilience and character, but we need to get better. Three of the four Test matches, we were very much behind the eight-ball.

"At the start of this tour, I said this would be a harder series for us to win than the Ashes, so to draw it 1-1 is a very notable achievement."


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