Eng vs SA: Neil Manthorp on the KP saga, Graeme Smith’s milestone, and unexpected landmarks
While following the Proteas on their tour of England, Neil Manthorp writes daily updates for the Supersport website. Today will see Graeme Smith become the most capped test captain of all time, as the Proteas face England in the final and deciding test at Lords.
Another day, another Kevin Pietersen fiasco. No wonder everyone’s fed up.
Graeme Smith seems genuinely ‘tuned out’ of the whole soap opera but had to face
16 television and video cameras at the traditional pre-test captain’s press
conference and field over a dozen questions on the sorry saga before finally
being allowed to talk about the cricket. “How is the No 1 ranking to your team?”
And that was that.
Nothing about becoming the most capped captain of all time. Not a word.
Ninety four test matches as captain – that’s 470 scheduled days of cricket. Add
a couple of days before and after conducting interviews, attending selection
meetings and meeting match referees, not to mention training and having nets,
and that’s close to two years of actual test captaincy. Never mind the days of
just being captain. Oh, and there was the ODI stuff for seven years, too.
Eventually he made his way to the written media conference and, finally, was
able to speak about what it meant to him. Very, very proud. Lucky and privileged
to be given the chance to grow in the role from a 22-year-old to where he is
today. Possible translation? “I really wish I hadn’t taken the job so
The South African squad have largely allowed the Pietersen thing to pass over
their heads. Except when it comes to insinuations that they were responsible for
them being placed in the public domain. There is frustration, even anger that
such accusations are being made. Just as Pietersen has friends and acquaintances
within the squad, so do other England players. And were Pietersen’s comments
discussed between the teams? Of course they were. It seems increasingly likely
that a very clearly disillusioned England camp were far more motivated to have
his erratic communication behaviour made public than the South Africans
In all the excitement of the Headingley test, one landmark appears to have
been missed by everyone – including me. AB de Villiers earned the title of “most
successive appearances for SA” with 76 – and counting. The man he surpassed?
Mark Boucher. He remains very close in the thoughts and minds of the squad.
Should AB falter, keep an eye on the Mighty #. 58 not out…
Also very much in the thoughts of many of the players and management was
Elize Lombard, laid to rest today. Many would have done anything to be there to
pay their respects and say goodbye. Everybody knows she will be terribly missed,
but I suspect nobody knows quite how much. Yet.
Click here to continue reading Neil’s UK diary. Follow him on Twitter @NeilManthorp and catch the occasional cricket-related tweet from Two Dogs/Mercury Books @TwoDogs_Mercury. The Proteas: 20 Years, 20 Landmark Matches is also available as an e-book on Amazon, Kalahari and Exclusive Books.
- The Proteas: 20 Years, 20 Landmark Matches by Neil Manthorp
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