Will the cookie crumble?

Written by: Mamatha Maben
Published: Thursday, July 24, 2003, 18:45 [IST]
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Bangalore: There are many people who play an important role in the success of a side - some at the forefront, some behind the scenes. One such person who plays a pivotal role in the fortunes of his team is the captain of the side. While it is a post of immense honour, pride & power, it is also one of the toughest jobs on hand and not everybody gets to excel as a captain. The job of a captain brings along its share of burden - in various forms, and so it can make or break one's career in no time. One such person who is at a make or break point very early in his career is South African captain .

Thrust with the skipper's mantle, much to the dismay & surprise of his teammates (one would suppose), Smith has an even more enormous task on hand. Not only has he the burden of leading the side but he also has to very quickly establish himself as a top-class batsman so that he can earn the respect of one & all.

In the few assignments that he has handled so far, one would suppose he has had an average outing- both as captain and as a player. Now the talking point would be, was it a wise decision to have saddled somebody who has the potential to be a quality player and may be, in time, a good leader with the responsibility & burden of leading from the front so early in his career - virtually in his infancy?

In my opinion, if he does well people are going to term it a masterstroke and if not we are not going to hear the end of it. However, I personally feel that whether the decision clicks or not Smith should have been given, if not more, at least a couple of years of sea-time in order to ride the high seas before being made to steer the ship.

Anyhow now that he has been made the skipper one hopes that he overcomes the initial hitches/disasters and matures to be a fine player & captain.

Focussing more on Smith the player & Smith the captain, my reading of the lad in his short stint at the helm is a pretty positive one.

As a player, he seems to have the stuff to survive at the top but more importantly he seems to have the vital ingredient that is needed to last at the top and that is a 'steely resolve'.He may not be as sound with his technique but his temperament will help him tide through.

Coming to Smith the captain, well, he seems to have ruffled a few feathers with his seemingly curt & high-handed statements. But I feel they are borne more out of an overbearing need to make his presence felt - to show who is in charge, than as an act of arrogance.

However, I suppose, with time & success he is going to settle down and grow to be an excellent leader.

His curtness apart, he has shown he is not shy of making bold statements like the one recently made of Hussain - that he may be feeling the pressure of Vaughan's success, and this quality is something that sets him aside. Not everybody has the gut to make bold statements for the fear of having to eat it.

The ongoing series with England is going to be immensely critical to Graeme Smith and what unfolds in the next couple of months may well be a defining moment not only for the skipper but also for the future of South African cricket.

As a person he comes across as a tough cookie and only time will tell whether the 'cookie will crumble'.


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