Graeme Smith won~~t be haunted by past failures

Published: Monday, February 26, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Johannesburg:Graeme Smith will lead from the front in his role as South Africa's World Cup captain and aggressive opening batsman and he insists his team will not be haunted by past failures.

South Africa will be among the favourites after powerful performances in the past two seasons. It's a situation they have been in before, only to stumble at crucial moments.

Smith says the whole team atmosphere is different this time around.

"We have been together for two years and we're a confident outfit. We're not afraid of being regarded as one of the best teams," said the skipper.

Much may depend on Smith's own form. The big left-hander had a dismal tour of Australia in 2005/06 and struggled at the start of the current season, making only one run in his first three one-day innings against India.

But he finished the India series with a hard-hit 79 and was in good form against Pakistan in South Africa's last series before the World Cup.

Smith sets out to dominate opponents, scoring at close to run a ball and using brutal power to intimidate bowlers, often charging down the pitch to play attacking shots.

He and the stylish AB de Villiers are a quick-scoring combination but they both play a high risk game. If they come off, it sets up a hard-hitting lower middle order.

The South African captain says his team, now the top-ranked side in the world, have prepared well and will go to the Caribbean with a calm confidence that they can beat any opposition if they play to their potential.

Smith, 26, took over as captain after South Africa failed to get beyond the first round of the 2003 tournament in their own country.

He can be brash and abrasive and has been criticised for being arrogant. But he has grown into the job and has developed a strong relationship with coach Mickey Arthur.

The West Indies was the scene of one of Smith's better tours as captain when South Africa went through four Tests and five one-day internationals against their hosts without losing a match.

Smith made three centuries in successive Tests and added another in the one-day series.

He dismisses concerns that South Africa's pace-based attack lacks balance and may struggle on West Indian pitches.

But he admits that he may have to play a bowling role with his off-spinners in order to fill up a fifth bowler's ration on slow pitches.


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