In 2009, Graeme Smith, the then South African skipper, walked out at No.11 to try and play out 8.2 overs with a broken hand at the SCG to try and salvage a Test match.
“Deep inside I didn’t really want to get out there,” Smith said at the end of the Test.
It was intense, hostile and everything else you’d expect Australia to be in a home Test match. But South Africa had won the first two Tests – the first by chasing down a record target in the country – and in a dead rubber with no context, Smith had no business coming into bat with a broken arm.
Everyone around the bat for Graeme Smith!
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) May 10, 2020
But he could’ve been setting a benchmark of how he wanted his players to play the game: putting in a fight until the very end. The never-say-die spirit that was characteristic of the South African team under him was appreciated by opposition captains too.
“I guarantee you South African cricket will miss Graeme Smith,” Australia’s captain, Michael Clarke said at the time of Smith’s retirement. “He is a once-in-a-lifetime player. Any player that leads from the front with the bat who has statistics like Graeme, you can’t replace that. He is what Ricky Ponting was to the Australian team.”
At the very same venue, 12 years later, India find themselves staring at a massive target. Unlike then, the series is till alive and kicking. Unlike then, there’s one more Test in the series to play for. Unlike then, the permanent skipper isn’t with the touring party. But there’s one similarity. There’s a player in the Indian side that’s injured and unlikely to bat after copping a blow to his thumb: Ravindra Jadeja.
If it comes down to India looking to save the Test in the twilight hours of day five, Jadeja has a chance to make a roaring statement before leaving the touring party, one that could potentially give India the inspiration to try and level, or even win – if they manage to indeed draw this Test – the Brisbane Test.
Watch Graeme Smith’s brave act here:
Just looked it up. Here’s a standing ovation for Graeme Smith coming out to bat with a broken hand at the SCG to save a Test match. Smith had to survive 30-odd minutes with Ntini to draw the match. The reception worthy of the courage he displayed. pic.twitter.com/AKVSz4bjqO
— Matt Nicholls (@matt__nicholls) August 18, 2019