Did Graeme Smith try to be clever?

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I ddidn't want to face the first ball - that's all it wasSouth Africa are currently ranked second-best in the world. The West Indies are ranked second-worst. The Windies had also come into this Test on the back of defeat to South Africa A, so when Graeme Smith won the toss, he put his opponents in to bat. This didn’t turn out all that well.

People seem to think it looked like a ‘bowl first’ pitch, but we don’t know about that. The West Indies topped 400 after all and just how often do you bowl first? To us it was the kind of move that said South Africa were already certain that they were going to win and all they were concerned about was how they were going to do it. This is never the way to beat a team. Your attitude’s wrong for one, but there’s also the chance that you might rile your opponents into overachievement.

If it really was just a case of misreading the pitch, fine, but if the sensible move would have been to bat, Smith should have done that. Be cold and calculating about it, be clinical. Make your grand statements of intent from a position of strength.

Or just play better. You can overcome quite a lot, if you just do that.


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  1. “Or just play better.”
    I agree whole-heartedly with this.

    The decision to bowl first was a perfectly sensible one. Since 2000, the team batting first has won 124 Tests, and the team batting second has won 164 Tests. There have been 88 draws. The old common sense of “Win the toss and bat” just doesn’t hold anymore.

  2. Gayle said he would have bowled first as well. Bowling first was a perfectly sensible decision, Bowling first but badly will always be a stupid decision.

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