Former South African captain, Graeme Smith claims the batsman of today’s generation lacks the brain and temperament to succeed in indifferent conditions.
Smith was the last batsman who managed to score more than 1,000 runs as a touring batsman in England. He scored 1,570 runs in 12 Tests at an exceptional average of 67.75.
However, we have known that opening in England is always a very challenging job. Only eight men in the past have scored more than 1,000 runs in on the England tour.
Graeme Smith further added the current batters don’t have the mentality for digging in and doing the hard yard. Smith said the batsmen of the current generation doesn’t have the tenacity to show their toughness against the new moving ball in the offshore conditions. The conditions generally suit the home side’s bowlers.
“I just think modern-day batters don’t have the patience any more. They’re not prepared to work through periods,” Smith was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz. “Look at Virat Kohli’s hundred in the Edgbaston game. How long was he under the pump for? He fought, and he fought, and he fought, and then suddenly it breaks; you get the opportunity to play, and the game opens up.”
“I just think that little bit has gone out of the modern-day game, certainly in the Test match format. That’s why captains drop the field back so quickly – because they know that the modern-day batters want to see boundaries. If they can cut out the boundaries, then people get frustrated and play loose shots.
“I think you can play on egos a lot more nowadays than you probably could a few years back. You have to have a brain. Sometimes you realise that ‘OK, the wicket is doing a lot, the ball is swinging, I’ve got to fight and fight hard to get through it.”
“So it’s about figuring out and understanding what you’re up against and putting your technique and mindset into the situation.”
Graeme Smith scored 5,253 runs of his 9,265 Test runs opening the batting on foreign soil. He scored runs at an outstanding average of 55.88 in the English conditions. English opener Alastair Cook is the only other batsman to score more runs in away situations than home.
However, the Protean had found more success on the foreign soil mainly England. Smith had scored five centuries in the country and avoided defeat on three tours. South Africa, under his guidance, won the series in 2008 and 2012.
“I sort of in my mind knew how James Anderson was going to bowl, how Stuart Broad would bowl, and prepared in that way,” Smith said. “I always thought about how they’ll try and get me out so prepared that way in the nets.
“The other thing is, batting in England you need to be really aware of the conditions. There’s a big difference batting in England when it’s overcast and cloudy to when it’s sunny.
“So just being aware of those situations – when you need to tighten up and when you can afford to attack a bit more and stuff like that. Mentally being a lot more aware, because the wicket may seem to be flat but all of a sudden it clouds over, and it starts swinging.”
Smith said playing the line was very crucial with the seam movement of the Duke ball. It tends to generate more movement both off the pitch and the air.
“When you’re batting in England, the minute you follow the ball you tend to nick it more. If you can play a line and you hold your line, if there’s swing or movement and it beats you, then that’s fine.
“I found that in England because the wickets are a touch slow if you follow the ball or at the last minute feel for something, you tend to edge it. So I was quite comfortable playing and missing in England and holding my channels with my bat,” he said.