Smith set for landmark appearance

  • Last Updated: January 31 2013, 18:29 GMT

South Africa captain Graeme Smith will become the first man to stand as captain in 100 Test matches when his side's series against Pakistan begins on Friday.

Graeme Smith: Century as captain
Graeme Smith: Century as captain

Smith, a surprising and inexperienced choice when appointed 10 years ago, has led his country 98 times and also captained the ICC World XI in the one-off 'Super Test' in 2005.

He will reach his century on his 32nd birthday as South Africa take on Pakistan in the first Test at Johannesburg hoping to consolidate their position at the top of the world rankings.

Smith has overcome initial scepticism over his appointment to perform at the top of the world game throughout his decade in charge.

He has not always been popular with supporters but, boasting 26 Test centuries and 8,624 runs at an average of 49.26, he has stood the test of time.

He has also earned the considerable respect of his team-mates and other figures around the world, even though he accepts his attitude can be perceived as arrogance.

Speaking in a television special about his landmark appearance, Smith said: "Back then I thought captaining was just an on-field thing, making some decisions and showing some leadership. Little did I know about what happened behind the scenes, the selection issues and the politics.

"Wherever I went early on teams were taking me on, the media was taking me on, and that was where I developed this hardness, this arrogance.

"It was my way of protecting myself and showing I can handle whatever is thrown my way. I came across in probably a very strong and not a very well-liked way."

South Africa have won their last five series and head into their latest challenge full of confidence.

The Proteas have a settled side with paceman Vernon Philander fit to feature at The Wanderers after overcoming a hamstring injury.

There has been some debate over whether the hosts might opt for an all-pace attack but left-arm spinner Robin Peterson, fit after a hand injury, is expected to play.

Pakistan are likely to provide a stiffer challenge for South Africa than they faced in New Zealand recently but have not played any Test cricket for six months.

Left-hand batsman Nasir Jamshed is poised to make his debut in the absence of the injured Taufeeq Umar.

Pakistan could also spice up their attack by introducing tall seamer Mohammad Irfan for his first appearance.

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