South Africa’s Graeme Smith arrived for his first Test at Lord’s having been recently appointed Test captain at the age of 22.
He could not have got off to a better start at the Home of Cricket, his innings of 259 surpassing Don Bradman’s record score by a visiting Test batsman and setting up an innings victory for his team. Another century (107) followed on his next Test appearance at Lord’s in 2008 and while his final visit in 2012 brought modest returns with the bat, he led his team to a 51-run victory which took them to the number one spot in the Test rankings, replacing England. In all, Smith scored 411 runs at 82.20 in three Tests at Lord’s.
Smith’s 259 occupied 370 balls over nine and a half hours. He struck 34 fours off an England attack containing Steve Harmison, Jimmy Anderson, Darren Gough, Andrew Flintoff and Ashley Giles. Dropped early in his innings at cover point, he made England pay dearly for the error, dominating an opening stand of 133 with the normally dashing Herschelle Gibbs. When Smith was out, inside edging a drive at Anderson on to his stumps just before lunch on the third day, his team had already reached 513 for 3 in reply to England’s 173 all out. But he let his team bat on until they had reached a monumental 682 for 6. With more than two days left, England’s defeat by an innings and 92 runs was simply inevitable.
In one respect, getting out for 259 was a bit of a comedown for Graeme Smith. In the first Test at Edgbaston he had made 277. But it’s probably fair to say that he wasn’t too disappointed.