Johnson causes another retirement


LONG-SERVING Proteas skipper Graeme Smith has pulled the plug on his international career, after a disappointing series for him personally with the bat against Australia and in particular Mitchell Johnson.

Zimbabwe players have finally agreed to go to the World Cup and Tuskers have it all to do.

The last Ashes in Australia was characterised by unusual mid tour retirements by some high profile English players. This seems to be the trend as South African skipper Graeme Smith ended his career in the middle of a must-win Test match.

Rest assured I have nothing, but the greatest respect for what Smith has achieved as a cricketer and a captain. When he first broke onto the scene he was criticised for his “technique”, despite a little tweaking he never changed it much and grew to be a legend in his own right.

Smith came to the party when his side needed him the most and always showed a lot of fight. That makes me wonder: Smith, why retire in the middle of a Test match? The situation is compounded by the fact that he personally had failed all series with the bat and he appeared clueless on how to deal with Johnson. The very first dismissal in the series will stay in my memory forever.

Smith had both eyes closed and head turned away as he fended away a rising Johnson delivery. Did the discomfort that Johnson caused Smith in the series accelerate his decision to retire? Smith had never before showed lack of guts. After his announcement the entire world thought he was going out with a bang as he strode to the crease one last time, amid a guard of honour by the Aussies.

There was no fairy tale ending as Smith again jumped back to fend off a Johnson delivery and inside edged the ball to short fine leg.

For everything he contributed to the game, if you are, as they say: “As good as your last innings or series” then Smith wasn’t very good was he? I only hope that Johnson is not frightening batsmen into retirement. Reminds me of when a young Bret Lee came on tour and after his devastating bowling, one player’s excuse the next day was “my mother, said I shouldn’t play”. I hope this is not the case after Mrs Smith saw Hashim Amla get pinned in the first Test.

On the Crease wishes Smith well on his future endeavours. The guard is changing in South African cricket as they are still coming to terms with the retirement of another legend, Jacques Kallis.

Mark Boucher left the international arena not too long ago. This time though, there are enough quality young players to keep the team going unlike when the likes of Hansie Cronje, Daryll Cullinan and Alan Donald retired at the same time.

Australia has never lost a series in South Africa since their readmission and it doesn’t look likely to change today.

  •  It all went downhill for the young Tuskers side last week, from a position of strength, Keith Dabengwa got out on a hundred and on a crumbling pitch the team fell apart.

They were bowled out and followed on and did not even make it to lunch the second time round, to lose the match by an innings and 40 runs.

The boys are in Kwekwe for their next assignment. They were dismal in the one dayer going down by nine wickets after posting just 186.

Test bowler Chris Mpofu made a welcome return to the team and it is hoped his experience will help the young boys through the difficult times. They are currently in the middle of the Logan Cup match.

It appears the standoff between players and the board is over and Zimbabwe will be after all sending a team to the World Cup.

The players are in their rights to make the demands, but these must be backed up by performances on the field of play.

There is the very real scenario that Zimbabwe will not come through the qualifiers where they will have to beat Ireland.

While the players were in offices with calculators and working out figures, Ireland was in the West Indies playing cricket.

They beat the West Indies for the first time in history and will definitely have the momentum going into the qualifiers.

I wish Brendan Taylor and the boys the best of luck and hope their performance is better than the last Twenty20 World Cup. On the bright side, it can’t get any worse, really.

It was pleasing to see yet another player who has played franchise cricket in Zimbabwe turning out for England and doing well.
Former Tuskers top order batsman Moeen Ali opened the batting for a new-look England side and belted the West Indies attack.

Ali showed when in Zimbabwe that he is a class player and I hope this is the beginning of a successful international career.

“L” is for leg; the entire half of the field behind the batsman’s leg in his stance.