Rory Bini | 12:55am GMT 14 January 2024
Graeme Smith spoke to cricket betting site Betway’ about why he believes the SA20 can be the biggest league outside of India.
On India v England
I think it’s a given that you can expect dry surfaces in India. For England under Ben and Baz, they don’t just play silly cricket. They’re obviously looking to play a real positive brand of cricket but there’s a lot of thought and brains. I know Baz well, he’s a deep thinker about the game and a creative thinker, so he’ll be strategising and thinking.
What England try to do is to put teams under pressure and make mistakes. The thing that India have is experience and an incredible confidence playing in their own backyard. They’re very successful at it, so it’s going to be interesting to see if this approach works for England.
Usman Khawaja has had an incredible year, so with him still around there’s enough experience to blood another opener and give him an opportunity to build another partnership with someone new, without losing Smith’s runs in the middle order.
Smith not the right Warner replacement
The same goes for Australia and David Warner. Those types of players are like an engine room in terms of energy and the intensity.
Having played against David, he was always at the forefront with setting the tone in the field. He comes with an immense amount of experience, travelling around the world and knowing what it requires to be successful playing in other people’s backyards, which is not easy.
He was the guy that took the game on and was able to apply pressure onto opposition attacks from the word go. He took a lot of the limelight and, when you lose a player like that, the pressure shifts to other people. How that impacts the team is always interesting to watch.
Steve Smith is clearly keen to open, but I’m surprised that Australia have opted to give him a crack against the West Indies later this month.
He’s an incredible player, so you would expect that he’d be able to adapt, but I worry that the new ball will potentially expose him to too much.
We have huge ambitions for SA20
Right now, I’m very excited for the start of Season 2 of SA20. As Commissioner, I’ve been involved right from the infancy and can tell you that a lot of work has gone into formulating the platform and the teams are looking extremely strong across the board.
We wanted to avoid an exhibition-style tournament and have really focused on making sure the cricketers are the best on show. There’s a quality group of young South African players and some outstanding international stars so, from a cricket perspective, it’s going to be very competitive.
SA20 can raise standards across the game
The clash with South Africa’s tour of New Zealand isn’t ideal, but scheduling is a challenge for everyone in the game and I expect that every year we’ll get better at it.
Test cricket is a format that we all love. I played 116 Tests myself, so I want to see it protected. I’m part of the MCC Committee and, after our previous meeting at Lord’s, we came out and said we believed the ICC needs to create a fund to protect it for the six or seven nations that play it.
On KP calling for Burger to be more aggressive
I think you’ve always got to be authentic. I think it’s a balancing act and I saw balance from him. He plays with real intensity. You can see when he gets a wicket how much it means to him.
What you want as a captain from your fast bowlers is for them to set the tone. It’s how they bowl and how they go about their work that sets the tone for everybody else and I thought he did that superbly well.
I thought he had a nice balance between being himself, being relaxed and also being in the contest. He competed well and was always in the game and bowled with great intensity.