Smith scored 277 in his first Test on English soil
Graeme Smith is back in England to play what is his 100th Test match -- at The Oval. Bikash Mohapatra salutes the Proteas captain on attaining the milestone.
By the time he played his first Test on English soil, at Edgbaston in July 2003, Graeme Smith was already captain of South Africa.
It was the 11th Test of his fledgling career and Smith was made Soputh Africa captain two Test matches earlier (against Bangladesh), a decision that was criticised in various quarters.
Smith, then 22, albeit grabbed his first significant opportunity to impress with both hands. In the first innings at the opening Test in Edgbaston he scored a majestic 277. Besides, he and Herschelle Gibbs (179) put on a record 338 runs for the opening wicket.
A brisk 85 (off just 70 balls) in the second innings ensured him the man of the match honours, even though the match ended in a draw.
Nine years later, Smith returns to England to play what is his 100th Test match - at The Oval. He still captains the South African side and besides his personal milestone, also has a major agenda this time around.
A win over England in the ongoing Test series will make South Africa the No.1 Test side in the world.
Smith averages 57 against England
Smith has a reason to be upbeat.
He averages a majestic 57.39 against England, having scored 1779 runs in 18 Tests, his best aggregate against any Test-playing nation.
Besides his 277 at Edgbaston, Smith scored a magnificent 259 at Lord's in the second Test of that series, a knock that helped his side to an innings win.
Overall, the South Africa captain has scored six hundreds and five half centuries against the English.
Smith is the sixth South African to play in 100 Tests
As he leads South Africa to the field at The Oval, Smith becomes only the sixth player from his country to play in 100 or more Tests.
Jacques Kallis (153), Mark Boucher (148), Shaun Pollock (108), Gary Kirsten (101) and Makhaya Ntini preceded Smith in the 100-Test club.
Not that such milestones matter much to Smith. The captain is clear regarding what he wants: beating England in the series and reclaiming top spot in the world rankings.
'I'm obviously extremely proud to have the opportunity to play 100 Tests for my country and my motivation is the same as it was on my first tour of England,' he was quoted as saying ahead of the Test in Birmingham.
'We don't need much more motivation than beating England in England.'
Smith has won 42 of his 91 Tests as captain
Smith's record clearly indicates he is an achiever.
Among the 99 Tests that he has played, Smith was captain in 91 of them, only Australian Allan Border has captained his side in more Tests (93).
Moreover, Smith, with 42 Test wins, is only second in that list, behind Ricky Ponting (48).
The captain's Test aggregate of 8030 runs -- no batsman has scored more Test runs as captain -- is the second highest for South Africa, behind Jacques Kallis (12,296 runs).
Besides, Smith remains the only South African to score four Test double hundreds.
All these numbers point out to the fact that Smith is an astute leader, who leads from the front.
Having achieved a personal milestone at Edgbaston, he will leave no stone unturned to ensure his side is successful in their ultimate objective, wresting the No.1 ranking from England. .