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Johannesburg – There has been a lot of talk of a dynasty and how the current South African team measure against the great sides of recent years, most notably the West Indies and Australia.
South Africa have an outstanding record – 15 Test matches unbeaten, six wins in a row (three by an innings) and a clutch of truly great players in their side. But it is premature to start talking about them being “the greatest ever”.
To be fair to him, Graeme Smith has been very measured when asked about all this talk of dynasty and legacy. He is aware that he is in the midst of a very special era but to start projecting and contemplating “dynasty” and “legacy” would be wrong.
Smith explained that he’d like to sit on his couch in 20 years’ time and look back at this present period as a moment when he and his players elevated South African cricket to an elite status in the game. In order for that to occur he can’t worry about anything other than winning the next Test.
What set the West Indies and Australia apart in the periods they dominated, was that they were never satisfied, none of the great sports teams ever are. The West Indies went a stretch when they were undefeated in 27 Tests, Australia won 16 Tests in a row – twice!
South Africa’s current run is still a long way short of that mark which is why Smith, while certainly aware of his side’s success, is also keen to temper talk about dynasty and legacy.
Another flaw in all this talk of greatness is that South Africa don’t have the kind of record in the one-day format that the West Indies team of the 1970s and 1980s and the Australian team of the mid-1990s to 2000s had.
Both those sides not only dominated Test cricket, they did One-Day cricket too.
For a country which has performed so consistently well in Test cricket as South Africa have done in the last 20 years, their record in ICC tournaments is woeful. They have a chance to correct that in the next two years – first in the Champions Trophy, which takes place in England later this year and then in the World Cup in Australia in 2015.
To build that dynasty and to reinforce any legacy they wish to (or are creating), it’s critical that some silverware is secured in the limited overs formats.
We are in a wonderful period for South African cricket – certainly on the field of play – but while so much has been achieved there is much more to do. – The Star