Monday, June 18, 2012

Smith to steady SA ship

England’s chances of a series win over South Africa this summer have taken a huge knock, and the Betfair England cricket betting odds have been shaken up, with the news that Graeme Smith is fit to captain the tourists in July and August.

Smith had surgery on his ankle back in April, but has recovered in time to be selected as part of South Africa’s 15-man touring party.

The left-hander’s inclusion will be a significant boost for a squad unchanged from their dogged 1-0 Test series win over New Zealand earlier this year.

For South Africa were impervious in the second Test against the Black Caps, coming out nine-wicket victors in a proficient bowling display that reduced the top order for just seven runs in the second innings.

Smith’s inclusion is unlikely to rocket the South Africans to a series whitewash this summer, but having the captain first on the wicket will be a serious confidence boost for a side looking to overturn England as the top ranked Test team in the world.

Smith’s professional 55-not-out against New Zealand proved he can just about lead the South African line, and he should fare well on English grounds where he has a 72 average.

The Johannesburg-born batsman is due to make his 100th Test appearance and looks set to lead a side out determined to beat England on their home turf for the first time since 1965.

The past three Tests in England have seen one home victory and two draws, the most recent tie coming in a pulsating five-Test series in 2003.

Smith started at the top of the order in that series nine years ago and knocked up 277 and 259 in his first and second Tests respectively.

And, although maybe not expected by the Betfair cricket community to lead the line in such a dominant manner this summer, Smith’s inclusion should keep the South African ship steady for their English encounter.

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