Smith Hails Current Team As Best He's Played In

Smith Hails Current Team As Best He's Played In
Smith Hails Current Team As Best He's Played In
©REUTERS / Action Images

South Africa captain Graeme Smith has hailed the current Proteas outfit as the best team he has played in following their 3-0 Test series clean sweep over Pakistan.

During the series, Smith took his 50th win as a Test captain and the side stretched their unbeaten run to 15 matches, including victory in each of their last six games.

"In terms of my career it's the best team I've played in as a South African cricketer," Smith said. "I think we have all of our bases covered. It doesn't mean there won't be big challenges ahead for this team but it's a wonderful team and from my perspective definitely the best team I've been a part of."

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Pakistan were swept aside, beaten by 211 runs in Johannesburg, four wickets in Cape Town and then an innings and 18 runs at Centurion, on the back of two innings victories over New Zealand and a 309-run win over Australia in Perth that keeps South Africa at number one in the Test match rankings.

"It's been a very special summer at home, (with) some incredible milestones for myself and the team," Smith added. "Right now, I just feel grateful I've been able to achieve something today and part of a special group of cricketers that can go on to hopefully achieve a lot more. 

"To be leading these guys, and achieveing these results is something I'm very proud of."

Prior to the match, Smith had called for his side to continue to produce their best, despite the fact that the series had already been sealed, and he got exactly the response he wanted.

"We wanted to step it up this game, to win convincingly in this Test match was important," he said. "We were a bit uncertain on day one about what the right thing to do was, we took it on and batted first which was a challenge. 

"I think in these sort of games it's very easy to be soft and not to give the committment to the cause.  Even if subconsciously you're 10% off what you normally are you don't really put in the performances. 

"To see our batters to front up like they did and our bowlers to put the odds in like they did really shows good signs as a team, shows we are hungry and a good determination. Also it shows a real pride in performance which is really important."

Smith was full of praise for debutant fast bowler Kyle Abbott, who returned figures of seven for 29 after coming into the side as a late replacement for the injured Jacques Kallis.

"My knowledge of Kyle was little bit limited so it was fantastic to see him bowl as well as he did," he admitted. "I was impressed with the good solid pace he had, he hit the bat hard, got the ball in right area consistently and asked a lot of questions.

"I think at Test match level it's about that consistency and more than often creating those options for yourself to be successful. With guys like Vernon and Dale at the other end creating pressure, to see a youngster like Kyle in international cricket come in and be as consistent as he was is great to see."

Ahead of South Africa's Champions Trophy campaign in June, Smith will head to England to captain Surrey. He says that he feels the time is right to take on such a challenge, rather than play in the Indian Premier League.

"I think it's an individual thing really, personally it was just the right decision for me in the time of life that I am. I was looking forward to that sort of challenge, I had done five years of the IPL and I felt that where I was with my family and career the oppotunity to go into London and lead a county like Surrey was something I was looking forward to. 

"It's an opportunity to grow my leadership skills, and to take on a big challenge from a personal perspective and hopefully at this stage in my career play some cricket and extend a good run of form into the international seasons."

© Cricket World 2013

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