Johannesburg: Former South African cricket supremo Ali Bacher has lauded the 2003 Omar Henry-led selection committee for appointing Graeme Smith as national captain when was just 22 and in the initial phrase of his international career.
"(Smith) was 22 years old, had played only eight Test matches, 22 ODIs and had hardly any captaincy experience," wrote Bacher in a special four-page supplement in the national daily, 'The Star' to commemorate Smith's centenary as a Test captain.
"We need also to doff our caps to the 2003 National Selection Committee, chaired by Omar Henry, for their vision and I would say their courage in appointing Graeme as captain," he added.
Bacher compared his own captaincy of the South Africa national squad at the age of 28 when he took on the Australians in 1970, with Smith, saying that he had spent seven years before that honing his skills as provincial skipper of the then Transvaal province.
The former head of cricket in South Africa, who oversaw the transformation of the formerly all-white body in a new democratic South Africa, also recalled the skepticism that happened on Smith's appointment from some quarters.
"After his appointment as captain, coach Bob Woolmer said, and with good intent, that he thought Graeme should relinquish the captaincy, for the time being anyhow, fearing that the pressures of captaincy would be too much for him so early in his international career," he elaborated.
"Like one of our all-time greats, Jacques Kallis, Graeme is only now being acknowledged for his immense contribution to the success of our cricket team over the past 10 years. He will go down in the history of the game as our most successful Test captain ever," said Bacher.
Story first published on: Tuesday, 19 February 2013 19:27 IST