Graeme Craig Smith (born 1 February 1981) is a South African cricket commentator and former cricketer , who played for South Africa in all formats. In 2003, he was appointed captain of the national team, taking over from Shaun Pollock. He held the position of test captain until his retirement in 2014. He is regarded as one of the greatest South African players of all time. At 22, he was appointed as South Africa’s youngest ever captain.
A tall, left-handed opening batsman, Smith is regarded as one of the best test match openers of all time. During South Africa’s tour of England in 2003, he made double centuries in consecutive Test matches: 277 at Edgbaston, and 259 at Lord’s. His 259 at Lord’s still holds the record for being the highest score made by a foreign player at this prestigious venue. On 24 October 2013, Smith became the second South African and 12th overall to complete 9,000 runs in test cricket in his 112th test match.
Known for the success of his opening partnership with Herschelle Gibbs, South Africa’s most prolific ever opening partnership, Smith has the distinction of having been part of all four of South Africa’s opening partnerships of over 300 runs: in three of them he was partnered by Gibbs, and in 2008 Smith added 415 for the first wicket with Neil McKenzie against Bangladesh, a world record opening partnership. On 3 March 2014, during the third Test against Australia, he announced his retirement from international cricket.
He was also the overseas player and captain of English side Surrey. He appeared in his 100th Test against England on 19 July 2012. He captained his 100th career Test match on 1 February 2013, against Pakistan, on his 32nd Birthday. He’s the only player to captain a side in 100 Tests.
Early and personal life
Born and raised in Johannesburg to Scottish parents Graham and Janet, Smith was educated at King Edward VII School. Smith played three Tests, and seven One Day Internationals for South Africa Under-19s, of which five were during the Under 19 Cricket World Cup. He scored one fifty in the test matches, but scored five half-centuries in the one dayers. Smith was also awarded the South African Cricketer of the Year award for his performances in the 2001-02 South African cricket season.
Smith married Irish singer Morgan Deane, at St Bernard Catholic Church in Claremont, Cape Town in August 2011. Their daughter, Cadence Christine Smith, was born 25 July 2012. A year later, the Smiths welcomed a boy, Carter McMorrin Smith, on the 15 July 2013. On 18 February 2015, Graeme and Morgan publicly announced that they would be divorcing after four years of marriage.On 24 December 2016, Smith’s girlfriend Romy Lanfranchi gave birth to Smith’s third child, a boy.
Graeme Smith has played for a number of cricket teams in South Africa. He currently plays for the Cape Cobras but due to his international commitments, his appearances for them have been limited, his last game for them being in 2010. In total he has played 17 games for Western Province scoring 1,312 runs with four centuries at an average of 46.85. He has also played for other teams in South Africa including United Cricket Board of South Africa Invitation XI and Western Province Boland.
He has also played county cricket for Somerset in the 2005 English cricket season, captaining the club for part of the 2005 season, and he scored a century in a tour match against the Australians in preparation for the 2005 Ashes series. Against Leicestershire at Taunton he scored his maiden first-class triple hundred (311 off 255 balls). He also hit 105 in the Twenty20 Cup match against Northamptonshire, which is currently the 15th highest score in the domestic Twenty20 Cup competition. Smith also captained the team to victory on finals day to secure the Twenty20 Cup trophy, making 64 not out from 47 balls in the final.
In 2008 Graeme Smith played in the inaugural Indian Premier League for Rajasthan Royals. His opening partnership with Swapnil Asnodkar achieved significant success. “You can know an opponent as a cricketer,” Royals captain Shane Warne, with whom Smith had had multiple dustups in the past, wrote afterwards, “but you only start to know him as a bloke when you play in the same side. As it turned out, the Graeme Smith I played alongside for the Rajasthan Royals in 2008 was different to the Graeme Smith I faced in the Test arena. That was the great thing about the Indian Premier League. It brought together players from all countries to share ideas, swap experiences and take the game forward worldwide. We had a laugh and a joke about the things we had said in the past. They sounded quite funny looking back. I know he has a few regrets, but, all credit to him, he sees the funny side.”
On 1 November 2012 Graeme Smith was announced as the new captain of Surrey County Cricket Club starting in the 2013 season.He received his county cap at lunch on day 1 of the first championship fixture of the 2013 season against Somerset.
Smith made his Test debut for South Africa in 2002 in Cape Town against Australia, batting at number three and scoring 68 in the second innings.Promoted to open the batting with Herschelle Gibbs against Bangladesh in his third Test match, Smith scored 200. In the following home series against Pakistan, Smith (who scored 151) and Gibbs (228) shared a first-wicket stand of 368, a national record until bettered by Smith and Neil McKenzie‘s 415, and at the time the fourth highest opening partnership in Test history.Following the 2003 Cricket World Cup and Shaun Pollock‘s subsequent resignation, Smith was selected as captain for South Africa’s next Test. The decision was criticised as it was felt that he had shown ‘few leadership credentials’: He had played only eight Test matches and 22 ODIs before being given the captaincy.Graeme Smith was only 22 years and 82 days old when he captained his first match against Bangladesh, the youngest ever South African captain.
During the tour of England in 2003 he made double centuries in consecutive test matches: 277 (and 85 from 70 balls in the second innings)in the first Test at Edgbaston, and 259 in an innings victory in the second Test at Lord’s. His 277 remained the highest individual Test innings scored by a South African until November 2010, surpassing the previous record of 275 held jointly by Daryll Cullinan and Gary Kirsten; his 259 remains the highest score made at Lord’s by a foreign player, breaking the record of 254 set by Sir Donald Bradman in 1930. These performances prompted Alec Stewart to call him “the most impressive 22-year-old I have seen in cricket”; the Edgbaston match prompted Nasser Hussain to retire as captain of England, to be succeeded by Michael Vaughan. This outstanding run of form could have continued but for an unusual dismissal: in the third Test at Trent Bridge Smith, on 35, played back to Andrew Flintoff and trod on his stumps to be dismissed hit wicket. Smith did not pass 20 again in the series as a galvanised England led by Vaughan won the match and fought back to draw the series 2-2, but Smith nonetheless finished the series with an aggregate of 714 runs at an average of 79.33, and was named player of the series (jointly with Flintoff).
During the year 2004 South Africa had a significantly less successful run in ODI cricket than they would have expected, with a 5-1 series loss to New Zealand and a 5-0 series loss to Sri Lanka. They had beaten the West Indies 3-1 earlier in the year, but South African cricket was described as being in a state of ‘freefall’. In Test matches also South Africa suffered a poor run with series losses to England, India and Sri Lanka. They did nevertheless win a home Test series against the West Indies (with Smith and Gibbs sharing their third 300-run opening partnership).
G.Smith’s results in international matches
Although initially regarded as an inexperienced captain, his growth in the role was evidenced when he was selected to captain the ICC World XI in the ICC Super Series Test Match between the ICC World XI and Australia in October 2005.
South Africa won a Test series in the West Indies in 2005, with Smith scoring centuries in three consecutive Tests: 148 at the Queen’s Park Oval, 104 at the Kensington Oval and 126 at Antigua. However, their tour of Australia, and Australia’s subsequent return tour in the 2005-06 season were disappointments for Smith, as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in Australia, and a 3-0 whitewash at home. Yet, for his performances in 2005, he was named in the World Test XI by ICC[circular reference]. Pride was restored when Smith led his team to victory in South Africa’s win over Australia in a One Day International at the Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg, on 12 March 2006. Australia set South Africa a world record 434-4 from 50 overs, which was successfully chased by South Africa who reached 438-9 with a ball to spare. Smith scored 90 runs off 55 balls in the chase, and shared in a second wicket partnership of 187 runs with Herschelle Gibbs. The result gave South Africa in a 3-2 series victory over the Australians.
In the first ODI against Pakistan on 4 February 2007, Smith hit an over bowled by Naved-ul-Hasan for 27 runs, and became the first player in ODI history to hit six fours off an over; Smith scored 72 from 47 balls as South Africa totalled 392-6, the highest ODI total ever made against a Test nation (excluding Zimbabwe) apart from the two innings of the aforementioned Wanderers match between Australia and South Africa. As captain he led the South African cricket team through 20 consecutive undefeated matches in One Day Internationals in 2005. In early 2007 Smith’s South Africans replaced Australia on top of the official ICC rankings for ODI cricket but returned to second place after mixed results in the 2007 ICC World Cup thus far after losing to Australia by eight wickets. In the 2007 World Cup he started the tournament with four successive 50s, a feat never before achieved by a captain.
During the second Test against Bangladesh at Chittagong in begun on 29 February 2008 Smith (who scored 232) and Neil McKenzie (226) put on a world record 415 for the first wicket. The partnership beat the previous first-wicket record of 413 which had been set in 1956 by Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy. They had finished day one with 405 runs on the board which was the most ever put on by a pair in a single day of Test cricket without losing a wicket. The partnership was Smith’s fourth opening partnership of over 300 runs, and his sixth of over 200 runs, both Test records.
In scoring 108 in the second innings of the first Test against England at Lord’s in 2008, Smith participated in a seventh double-century opening partnership, again in conjunction with McKenzie, as South Africa fought to draw a Test which appeared lost. He also scored a second-innings 154 not out in the third Test at Edgbaston, to lead South Africa to a challenging target of 281, and with it South Africa’s first series victory in England since 1965. The result provided Smith with personal vengeance against Michael Vaughan for denying South Africa a series victory in England in 2003 and defeating South Africa at home in 2004-5; Vaughan resigned as captain of England after the Edgbaston match, in an echo of Nasser Hussain‘s resignation at the instigation of Smith’s batting five years earlier.
South Africa would later on go to Australia for a test and one day series that was billed as the ‘heavyweight’ series. It was the world champions Australia taking on the number two side South Africa with the series winner becoming world champions. In the first test match at Perth, South Africa chased down 414 runs with 6 wickets in hand. This was the second largest fourth innings total that was chased down in history and the highest on Australian soil. Graeme Smith broke his Australian hoodoo by leading from the front and scoring 108, his first century against Australia. He would also share a partnership with Hashim Amla.
In December 2008 he captained the first South African side that won a test series against Australia on their soil, in the course inflicting the first home defeat on the opponents in 16 years. On 7 January 2009, in the third test of the series, Smith received a standing ovation from the crowd when he batted in the second innings despite a broken hand in an attempt to save the Third Test. He fell with ten balls remaining and Australia won the Test.
After South Africa lost to New Zealand in the quarter-finals of the 2011 World Cup, Smith resigned as ODI and Twenty20 captain. He was replaced by AB de Villiers.Smith had to recover from an ankle injury to face England in a three test series in 2012. By beating England in the first and third tests and drawing the second – he led South Africa to a series victory. This put South Africa back on top of the ICC Test rankings. And with England Test cricket captain Andrew Strauss retiring from all forms of cricket right after this defeat, Graeme Smith achieved a rare feat of toppling three English captains in three tours to England.
For his performances in 2012, he was named in the Test XI of the year by Cricinfo.
He is the most successful test captain in test history (53 test wins) and also the only captain to have registered 50+ test wins, having overtaken Ricky Ponting‘s 48 Test victories. He’s the only player to captain a team in 100 Tests.
He was appointed as director of cricket for South Africa national cricket team
During a Test series against South Africa in 2005, Trinidadian Dwayne Bravo scored his maiden century – 107 – before getting out to Mark Boucher in the fourth Test in Antigua, but that was overshadowed when he accused Smith of directing a racist comment at him. At the subsequent hearing no evidence could be found and charges were dropped against Smith, who immediately demanded an apology from Bravo. Bravo, backed by the West Indies Cricket Board, refused to do so and received a hail of criticism from an indignant South African press while finding support at home as a human rights campaigner.
- Smith holds the world record of captaining in most number test matches. He is also the only test captain to play in excess of 100 test matches. (109 – 108 as captain for South Africa, and 1 for ICC).
- Smith holds the world record of highest number of wins in test matches as a captain with 53 wins.
- Smith holds the most number of centuries (15) by a captain in test match wins.
- He also holds the world record of a non-wicketkeeper taking most catches (82) in test match wins.
- Fastest South African cricketer to reach 1000 test runs.
- Smith holds the record for scoring the most number of test runs as captain (8659).
- He along with Jacques Kallis set the record for the highest ever partnership for any wicket as debutants in T20 Internationals (84 for the 1st wicket)
He holds an unusual record in England in 2003, 2008 and 2012, Nasser Hussain, Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss ended their respective careers as England test captains as they failed to beat South Africa in the years Smith toured England as South Africa captain.