Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
“To have come back and scored a double hundred in these conditions – almost sub-continental and with the heat – is something I will never forget”
South Africa captain Graeme Smith has praised his team for beating Pakistan by an innings and 92 runs in the second Test in Dubai as it ensured the Proteas remained unbeaten away from home since Sri Lanka defeated them in 2006.
This is the 12th consecutive series South Africa have been undefeated and it is looking more and more likely that Smith’s side may start being compared to the West Indies ‘dream team’ of the 1980s.
“I don’t want to be throwing that label around to the public just yet, I think we still have a long way to go but I don’t think many teams in the current set-up can travel as well as we do and be able to perform in the different environments and under the different pressures,” Smith said. “I don’t think the team gets enough credit for that. It’s an immense record and we are very proud of it. We want to go on and win more series, dominate, we want to play good cricket set a standard and we are on the right path.”
According to Smith, South Africa’s experience is the key reason why they haven’t been beaten away from home in nearly seven years.
“Part of playing away from home is finding a way to morph in those conditions,” he said. “We have a great understanding of that and how to work our way into conditions.”
Smith, who scored a fabulous 234 in the second innings of the second Test against Pakistan, also spoke about the ankle surgery he underwent in April and the chilling warning he received from the doctor prior to it.
“If this doesn’t work, I don’t know what I am going to do,” the doctor had told Smith.
Smith has had a history of ankle problems, but his most recent injury came while he was captaining Surrey in May this year.
The South African captain decided to fly home and have his ankle surgically repaired, which involved putting two pins into his heel to help correct a stress fracture he had suffered.
“I had a lot of time to reflect on my career and I wondered if there would be more,” Smith admitted. “I worked really hard to get to where I am now. To have come back and scored a double hundred in these conditions – almost sub-continental and with the heat – is something I will never forget. I am proud of it. I will cherish this innings for the rest of my life.”
The 32-year-old finished off by lauding his team for fighting back against Pakistan and ensuring the series ended as a 1-1 draw.
“Once they got in and the ball got soft, it became difficult,” Smith added. “We controlled the run-rate and they were never scoring at more than 2.5 to the over and we knew if we kept doing that, there was going to be one opportunity and Dean got that one opportunity.”