Smith optimistic for future

2011-06-06 07:16
Graeme Smith (Gallo Images)
Eduan Roos

Cape Town - A new coach, a new one-day and Twenty20 captain, and now also a new challenge - to dethrone India as the world's leading cricket team.

VIDEO: Smith apologises

That is Graeme Smith and the Proteas' aim for the season after South Africa again failed to break their World Cup drought on the sub-continent earlier this year.

National Test captain Smith on Sunday for the first time spoke about the plans ahead in the wake of the Proteas' shock World Cup exit at the hands of New Zealand in March.

South Africa were beaten by 49 runs in the quarter-final after New Zealand had earlier only managed to post 221/9. The Proteas appeared to be cruising to victory at 109/2.

"Like the South African public and my team-mates I had very high expectations for us in the tournament, but ultimately things did not go according to plan," said Smith.

"It's easy now to wonder about our strategic decision-making, but the same decisions would have been praised had we won the tournament."

Smith is still "convinced" that the experiment with three recognised spinners (Johan Botha, Robin Peterson and Imran Tahir) and only two pace bowlers in the South African XI was the right one.

"It did mean though that our lower-order batsmen each had to move up by one position, but thanks to our outstanding bowling performances we had to chase scores that we should be able to reach.

"Unfortunately our top-order batsmen, including myself, did not perform up to scratch and it's something we have to put right in the difficult series' against Australia and Sri Lanka."

The Aussies come to South Africa in October for two Tests, five one-day internationals and two Twenty20 matches, after which Sri Lanka - this year's World Cup runners-up - tour at the end of the year.

"I'm still very positive and excited about what is awaiting the Proteas as a new coach will be appointed for the one-day and Twenty20 teams on Monday," said Smith.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) is expected to announce that Gary Kirsten and AB de Villiers will perform the tasks, with Allan Donald and Russell Domingo as part of a brand new coaching team.

"Our biggest challenge now is to dethrone India as the number one team," said Smith.

"As soon as the new coach is appointed, we will try and get my form back to where it should be."

The 30-year-old Capetonian said that a first goal would be to recover from the knee injury that limited his participation in the Indian Premier League.

"The injury is more serious than I initially thought, but fortunately there is still a lot of time to recover. I'm confident that I will start the new season without any niggles and will be able to make a big contribution to the Proteas' success."


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