Kookaburra ball letting people down - Graeme Smith

Kookaburra ball letting people down - Graeme SmithFormer Test captain Graeme Smith thanked India and especially late Jagmohan Dalmiya for helping South Africa return to international cricket in 1991. Delivering the Jagmohan Dalmiya memorial lecture at the second annual conclave at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Friday (November 2), Smith recalled that day when as a 12-year-old he had watched Clive Rice-led South Africa playing at the Eden Gardens on their return from international ban.  "It was a huge occasion as everybody understood how big it was to play international cricket," said Smith, who acknowledged being lucky to live that dream.  In his speech, Smith touched upon the relevance of Test cricket in an era of T20 games. "T20 is a huge asset to the game. It has great financial impact and generates a lot of excitement," he stated. Adding to his argument he added, "Test cricket exposes weaker teams. A 30-ball 70 can win you a shorter format of the game, but not in Test cricket. It is a different challenge."  The left-hander weighed into the recent ball debate and said the Kookaburra ball was killing contests. "For me, the ball in Test cricket is a huge issue. I saw some of the boys complaining about the SG ball. In particular, the Kookaburra ball is letting people down. It's a ball that softens and does not swing for a long period of time. I think Test cricket cannot afford to have boring draws. The ball needs to spin and it needs to swing and show movement in the air. Competition between the bat and the ball is key to keeping Test cricket relevant."  Smith also talked up the importance of 'superstar' players like Virat Kohli to help Test cricket thrive. "World cricket currently lacks superstars. I feel Virat is great for Test cricket. He is enthusiastic about playing the longest format of the game. As long as he keeps performing, we have a chance to keep Test cricket relevant."  In his evaluation of the current standards of Test cricket, the former South African captain opined that the format has lost some dynamic teams with the ability to perform across conditions.  He lavished praise on the present India team. "India is producing some of the most exciting talents of the world," he said, naming Rishabh Pant in particular. The former opener felt that India's domestic set up, including tournaments like the IPL and Ranji Trophy were the main reasons for rising stock of the country's cricketing fortunes. He also appreciated the role of former India skipper Rahul Dravid in nurturing young talents at the Under-19 level.  Smith said he was most impressed by the fact that India's bowling unit no longer comprises just "one outstanding bowler" but now boasts a vastly improved pace attack. "They have the ability to win in South Africa and England. I hope they have learnt hard lessons from these two tours, and if the team management picks the right team combination and the leadership takes the right decisions, I expect them to do well in Australia," he stated.



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