Smith looking for more Lord's landmarks

Updated: 12 July 2008 14:31 IST

In 2003, Graeme Smith took over South Africa's captaincy as a 22-year-old, and gave Michael Vaughan's men a hammering at Lord's.

Smith looking for more Lord's landmarks

London:

South Africa captain Graeme Smith returns to play Test cricket at Lord's here tomorrow hoping both he and his side can show the same form that they did in their crushing win over England five years ago.

Back in 2003, Smith was a novice, 22-year-old captain.

But he struck a double century in the drawn first Test at Edgebaston, where Nasser Hussain resigned as England skipper.

Smith then followed up with 259 at Lord's, the highest Test score by an overseas player at the 'home of cricket' as the Proteas won by an innings and 92 runs in what was Michael Vaughan's first Test as England captain.

However, left-handed opener Smith comes into this Test with just two hours in the middle, against Middlesex in last weekend's tour match, since arriving in England following a hamstring injury.

There are some special memories for me and the team personally," Smith told reporter at Lord's here on Wednesday.

"It's fantastic what we did in 2003 and it would be great to repeat that. In 2003, I came here in fantastic form but recently it's been a battle with injuries so it's going to be a challenge."

South Africa, since returning to international cricket after their apartheid-enforced exile, have yet to win a Test series in England with that last trip in 2003 ending in a drawn encounter.

"England are very tough to beat at home, as are any team, but if we can win a series here it will be a great achievement," Smith said.

Early in his captaincy career, Smith was known as an abrasive leader but he insisted he'd become a more relaxed character.

"I've settled into it. I'm hopefully calmer and more experienced tactically.

"At 22 you are trying to prove to the world and everybody you can handle the job. Being single-minded was one reason why I could handle the job at 22, 23."

Much has been made of how England will cope with South Africa's quicks.

But with conditions likely to assist swing bowling, and some members of the Proteas' top order on their first tour of England, there is also the question of how South Africa will adjust to a typically English environment.

However, Smith said: "If conditions are going to be like this, it will be a challenge for both teams.

"When we went to the sub-continent people questioned our ability to play spin, but we won in Pakistan and Bangladesh and drew in India."

Another immediate challenge is the eight-and-a-half foot slope at Lord's which can prove a problem for both bowlers and batsmen alike.

However, five years ago, the slope didn't prevent Makhaya Ntini taking 10 for 220 as he, together with Smith, got his name on the Lord's honours board.

Amidst all the talk of the pace of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, Ntini has been somewhat overlooked in the build-up to this match.

"That's a huge motivation for him," said Smith. "He's the senior statesman in our attack and he's hugely motivated to do well."

Someone else not lacking motivation is England's Kevin Pietersen, with the South Africa-born batsman now set to play his first Test against the land of his birth.

Pietersen has had a particularly fiery relationship with Smith, labelling him a "muppet" in his autobiography.

"Sure he's hugely motivated but there will be a little pressure too," Smith said. He always puts himself in front line and he's a key player. Hopefully, we can execute our game plans."

Vaughan announced earlier today an unchanged side which is now set to take the field for a record sixth successive Test.

But with rain forcing both sides indoors today and further showers forecast, Smith said spinner Paul Harris could be omitted and another seamer added to South Africa's already powerful pace attack.

"We'll have to see. We've felt the need to develop a spinner but the weather is a consideration."



Topics : Cricket Sreesanth
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