Johannesburg: Former South African captain Ali Bacher has lauded Graeme Smith, terming the present Proteas skipper as the strongest on-side player he has ever witnessed.
"A fiercely strong on-side player, probably the strongest on-side player I have ever seen. (Smith) couples this with a penchant for often playing across the line," Bacher wrote in an article in the daily 'The Star'.
"In all my years of cricket, I cannot recall any international batsman receiving as much comment and even criticism from many international cricketers about his faulty technique as Smith has had," Bacher said about Smith, who will be playing his 100th Test on the current tour of England.
Smith was appointed South Africa captain in 2003 at the age of 22, making him the then youngest Test captain in the world. He remains the fourth youngest captain nine years later.
"To Cook's credit, during those early formative years, he never tried to change (Smith's) technique, merely advising him to play as late as possible," Bacher said.
Commenting on claims that Smith has not always had the support of the public, who sometimes call him brash, harsh and arrogant, Bacher said the captain had mellowed down over the years.
"To me, Smith has always had an Aussie touch to him mentally very strong, never intimidated by anybody, and calls it as he sees it," Bacher concluded.