Former South African skipper Graeme Smith started his captaincy career back in 2003 at the age of 22. Then one of the youngest skippers in the world, Smith was handed the leadership role after South Africa’s early exit from World Cup at home. But he reckons that promoting Aiden Markram as the stand-in captain of the side for the ODIs against India was “not the right decision.”
Smith commented when the Proteas lost the ODI series against India in which they lost the six-match series by 5-1. He also hopes that the loss hasn’t crushed Markram’s confidence as he managed only 127 runs in six innings. As quoted in ESPN Cricinfo, he said, “I don’t think it was the right decision. Everyone has been talking about his leadership. Probably coming from me that doesn’t make sense because I got given the job at a very young age. I think it was an interim thing, not a full-time thing. I would have rather have had him find his place, find his feet within the one-day set-up, try and get runs behind him. South Africa need players to step up and perform.”
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He further added, “I think in the short term, with AB coming in after three games he could have stepped in, and they could have looked at Duminy or Amla in the first couple and allowed someone like Markram just to settle. One, he was batting out of position at No. 4 at the start of the series, something he had to come to terms with, and then you’ve piled him under pressure not only on his own game but also as a captain. He would have gained a lot experience-wise but let’s just hope his confidence hasn’t taken a dent.”
Smith was surprised to see that none of the senior players stepped up on the occasion and asked to lead the team, he said, “What was disappointing for me was that I don’t think the other senior players stepped up around him – the Amlas, Duminys, Millers, those guys just never got it going from a performance perspective, an intensity perspective. They needed to get behind and lead the way almost.”
This is in contrast to what the Proteas were planning. With the 2019 World Cup just over a year away, South Africa must b planning to give more players an exposure and prepare for the big event but they have now been exposed. But, Smith reckons this series loss can be a good thing for them as they can learn the right lesson from the loss.
Explaining his point, Smith said, “If the leadership strategically gets the thinking right, gets the tactics right and involves the right kinds of players, I think this can be a good thing for South Africa. They’ve exposed a few more players to the international game, they have a few more players to look at and think okay, ‘how can I position that guy there, okay he looks like he might have something’ and they’ve had some exposure.”
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South Africa batsmen struggled against India’s wrist-spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, who took as many as 33 wickets in ODI series and Smith was of the view that South Africa had no plan B against India. The Proteas lost Faf du Plessis, Quinton De Kock, and AB de Villiers to injuries at different times in the series and other batsmen found it difficult to score runs at home.
Graeme Smith concluded by criticizing South Africa’s plans further, he said, “South Africa really had no thought, no plan B or C. It was really just dotted ball, dot ball, ‘okay let’s have a swing.’ There was no real plan, let’s try to build a partnership, it was almost like as the partnership builds it gets slightly easier and South Africa never found a way to do that.”