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Smith needs support, says Kirsten

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Graeme Smith (left) and coach Gary Kirsten.

An abundance of options has left Proteas coach Gary Kirsten with plenty to smile about, but for fans here the exclusion of yet another crowd favourite will be a bitter pill to swallow.

With Hashim Amla on paternity leave and Jacques Kallis given a break, news that Dale Steyn will be rested for the remainder of the series will not go down well with the fans at the De Beers Diamond Oval on Friday.

Kirsten believes the time is right to give the team’s top bowler some much-needed time off.

“We decided to give Dale a break for the rest of the series,” Kirsten said on Thursday. “This falls in line with our vision of not relying on individuals but rather on a squad of players capable of performing.”

While the coach didn’t name his squad at the press conference, he did say that Wayne Parnell would come in for Steyn. It’s been 10 months since the 22-year-old last competed at this level and with a promising career ahead of him, Kirsten has his sights set on creating a unit where he has no shortage of options.

“Wayne has been working very hard at training and having a player like him gives us a chance to rotate the players.”

Robin Peterson retains his position in the team as the frontline spinner.

The exclusion of Johan Botha has been a topic of hot debate recently, but according to the coach, Botha is taking it in his stride.

“We’re giving Robbie another crack, but Johan has been fantastic about his exclusion. As one of the team’s leaders, he understands that we need to explore all our options and he has handled the situation like a true professional.”

Meanwhile, Graeme Smith’s inconsistent form has been the subject of some criticism but, as skipper AB de Villiers did on Wednesday, Kirsten came to the opener’s defence, revealing that a lot of behind-the-scenes work put in by the Test captain has often gone unnoticed.

“Graeme is going through a lean spell, but what he needs right now is support,” said Kirsten. “With AB still learning the ropes in his position as captain and behind the stumps, Graeme has been incredibly useful.

“As for his batting form, he has been solid in the past and taking these factors into consideration, I think he deserves another opportunity.

“Looking back at my playing days, I’ve been where Graeme is now and he knows that he needs to get a score.”

The coach said that with the series already wrapped up, he has given the players some time off ahead of Friday’s match.

“We made the decision to cancel practice in Kimberley and Johannesburg to give the players a chance to get their minds off cricket. There is a bit of fatigue slipping in and I think it’s often far more valuable to spend time away from training. It’s a decision that we made and I think it is necessary.”

Kirsten warned, though, not to underestimate the visitors.

“Throughout the summer, we have learned that we need to respect the opposition. International teams come here with a lot of national pride and want to do their best for their country.

“But worrying about our opponents is an exercise in futility. What is important is our need to constantly upgrade our skills and become mentally stronger.

“I think at this stage we are well prepared and this will make us difficult to be beaten,” said Kirsten.

Looking ahead, Kirsten is very excited about his options at numbers four, five and six, where the reintroduction of Kallis, as well as a number of others, will leave him spoilt for choice. – The Star


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Frustrated, wrote

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10:33am on 20 January 2012
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Graeme Smith lost my respect and support when he failed to take responsibility for the team results after the loss at the World Cup, and did not return to the RSA with the team. Put some other up and coming youngsters in the team.

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GF, wrote

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10:32am on 20 January 2012
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Buy him crutches or a walker.

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Greg Dolphin, wrote

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10:24am on 20 January 2012
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i have not forgotten what smith did to an in form klusner. with that in mind i say smith be treated equally....go play domestic cricket!

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:23am on 20 January 2012
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YOU GOT TO LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE WE NEED TO WIN THE WORLD CUP.GIVE THE YOUNG GUNS CHANCE TO PERFORM.SMITH SHOULD STEP DOWN AS HE WOULD HAVE DROPPED ANYONE ELSE THAT WAS UNDER PERFORMING IN HIS TIME AS CAPTAIN.NOTHING PERSONAL BUT YOUR COUNTRY PRIDE COMES FIRST.

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R_U_SeeReeJas, wrote

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10:12am on 20 January 2012
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@lifelove u aren't seriously comparing Smith to the greatest cricketer this country has ever produced r u? Smith has been no less inconsistent than Gibbs for years now... the difference being,WE LOVE WATCHING HERSCHELLE PLAY!!! Smith never has been as naturally a gifted player as Gibbs or technically good as Kallis.

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fred nerk, wrote

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10:01am on 20 January 2012
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The best thing is that Smith goes back to Ireland so that his wife can persue her singing career & then see if he can make it in to the second Irish X1

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ak47dog, wrote

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09:58am on 20 January 2012
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Our nations sport teams do not require individuals who do not perform. Smith's performances are poor and he should rediscover his form at provincial or club level. The power of the sponsors is amazing!

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Twelfth Man, wrote

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09:49am on 20 January 2012
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Make Tubby Smith twelfth man.

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Anonymous, wrote

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09:45am on 20 January 2012
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Gary has been given a job to do and I have no doubt he will be extremely successful, so let him get on with it.

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jared, wrote

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09:32am on 20 January 2012
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The only support Smith needs is a sports bra.

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lifelove, wrote

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09:26am on 20 January 2012
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Just let Kirsten do his job. I like what he is doing especially trying out Parnell again. Its good to have choices! And it wasn't too long ago when King Kallis had a bad run, so I think Smith can be given a chance.

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R_U_SeeReeJas, wrote

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09:24am on 20 January 2012
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@Cecillia... what makes u believe he was every1's "pin-up boy?" the truth is, Smith has been in the team for way too long, years @ that, on the strength of his captaincy and not individual performance.... and even this is baffling, 'cause his never been a true "Great Captain," @ best he's been ok, sometimes good. how often have we been outwitted by average and even lesser teams like the Windies, Sri Lanka, NZ, Bangladesh? We should show him support, the same support he showed Klusener & Gibbs... DROP HIM!!! If he's as good as u say, he'll play he's way back, won't he.

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jeff, wrote

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09:21am on 20 January 2012
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the only suppoty FAT Smith neds right now is to be dropped from the team - fatty you have become a liability doode - loose the fat middle waste and perhaps you will get a re-call!!!!!

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Lionel @ Cecilia, wrote

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09:20am on 20 January 2012
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The Proteas best make the most of their winning streak against a pathetic Sri Lankan team, as things are sure to change when they face the street smart Kiwi's in the land of the long white cloud. I trust you still have that pin up of Smith on your bedroom ceiling?

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Cornelius, wrote

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09:19am on 20 January 2012
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What's wrong with you? Are you mad? Smith does not even deserve to be the number one player. He should be down graded, or replaced with another competent player.

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Hinkey, wrote

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09:18am on 20 January 2012
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I am not a fan of Smith, but maybe he also needs a break. Give somebody else a chance to perform.

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anonymous, wrote

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08:55am on 20 January 2012
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I think Kirsten needs to be worrying more about getting a new opening batsmen than getting excited about his options at 4 5 and 6. Any other player would have been dropped if they had performed like Smith. Seems Smith can do no wrong - something like Malema. What irks me is that if he gets a good score then suddenly he is the best thing since bubblegum.

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Lionel, wrote

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08:49am on 20 January 2012
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Gary are those the soles of Graeme's cricket shoes when you bend over?

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biffo, wrote

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08:43am on 20 January 2012
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BEST support for him is DROP him like would happen to ANY other player who is "struggling" What is is good for the goose os good for the gander.

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Cecilia, wrote

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08:13am on 20 January 2012
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I am NOT a'fan' of the Proteas. I am a supporter. Fans are fickle; supporters are constant. When Graeme smith was doing well, he was everyones pin-up boy, now that he is having a tough time he must be ousted? What garbage. i look forward to the cricket this afternoon. Go well Gary and your (our) squad!

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