Cape Town - South Africa's leading run-scorer in Test cricket, Jacques Kallis, hopes Graeme Smith will get the credit he deserves in retirement, which he did not get from the public during his playing career.
Smith announced his impending retirement from international cricket on Monday evening, and Kallis said it was time he was properly recognised for his achievements.
“He's probably another South African sportsman that hasn't got the credit that I think he deserves,” said Kallis at Newlands in Cape Town, on Tuesday.
“Now in his retirement I hope we can give him the due respect he deserves.
“Maybe it's a South African thing where we like keeping our guys down on the ground, criticising them.”
Smith will retire from all international cricket on Wednesday upon the completion of the third Test against Australia in Cape Town.
It brings to an end a career of 117 Tests, and 107 as captain for the Proteas.
Smith scored 9 265 runs, 27 tons and 38 half-centuries, in Tests at an average of just under 49 with a highest score of 277 against England in Birmingham in 2003.
In One-Day Internationals, Smith averaged nearly 38, with 10 centuries and 47 fifties and a highest score of 141 against England in the ICC Champions Trophy in 2009.
Kallis said Smith had always shown character in his roles as an opening batsman and captain.
“How I will remember Graeme is him being the man for the tough situation.
“To average around 50 mostly in South African conditions is a hell of an effort.”
Retired cricketer Shaun Pollock said he knew Smith was a leader from the moment he started playing for the national team.
“Graeme always stood out as a very mature cricket brain even from a young age,” said Pollock.
“When he started, people would have thought he was a brash 22-year-old making big statements. He stuck to his guns and it wasn't long before he had two double centuries to his name as captain, and it gave him time to develop as a leader.”
Smith was never the most technically correct batsman, but made up for it in other ways, said Pollock.
“Technically he wasn't the best you would come across, but from a tenacity point of view, and the number of runs he scored, he was fantastic.
“You don't have to be pretty to be effective, but he was very effective.”
Smith was misunderstood, which led to public criticism throughout his career, explained Pollock.
“It was never about Graeme Smith's legacy, it was always about what he felt was right for the team. It was misinterpreted in the early stages of his career.
“We're a very passionate sporting nation. It's our team when we're winning, and it's Graeme's team when we're losing.”
Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Haroon Lorgat, said there would have to be a process followed in choosing a new captain for the Test team.
“There's a bit of time and it's something the selectors will have to deal with. I don't want to pre-empt anything at this stage,” Lorgat said.
“We're fortunate there's a T20 series to follow and we've already got an established captain.”
AB de Villiers is the current Test vice-captain and also leads in ODIs, while Faf du Plessis is the T20 captain, but Lorgat would not say if either were a favourite to take over from Smith.
Lorgat said it was fitting for Smith to end his career at Newlands, where he had started for the Proteas in 2002.
“Sometimes lady luck smiles on people's careers. Saying goodbye at Newlands was an apt end to his formidable career.
“It always comes as a surprise when somebody as big and as great as Graeme calls it time. It wasn't unexpected. We thought it would be sooner rather than later he would call time.” - Sapa