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Last Updated: Monday, 21 July, 2003, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Woolmer gives Smith tough advice
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport exclusive

Graeme Smith
At 22, Smith is too young to captain South Africa, says Woolmer

Former South African coach Bob Woolmer has admitted he did try to prevent Graeme Smith from taking up the captaincy.

Woolmer believed the 22-year-old was too young to lead his country after Shaun Pollock was sacked.

However he dismissed claims he had "pleaded with Smith" to turn down the captaincy.

Woolmer, now the International Cricket Council's high performance director, told the BBC Sport website: "I never actually spoke to him at any stage on the phone. I tried to phone him but didn't get through.

"I would have advised him not to take the position yet [of captain] if I had managed to get through to him.

"All I said is it would have been my advice - but I didn't badger him not to take the captaincy because I didn't actually speak to him.

I have since e-mailed him to wish him luck for the whole tour and I feel the matter is now closed
Bob Woolmer

"I think he has the toughness to captain the side, but would be better at 25 than 22."

Woolmer, who played Test cricket for England before becoming a successful coach at various levels, said the main point of his attempted phone call was to offer technical advice.

"I wanted to speak to Graeme to advise him on English conditions if he felt it was necessary.

"He's naturally right-handed but bats left-handed - there are one or two things that he should know.

"He had a technical fault that would be exposed and I just wanted to talk to him - that's why I was going to phone him.

"I left a message on his phone and he left one on mine when I was coaching in Dubai.

"I have since e-mailed him to wish him luck for the whole tour and quite frankly I feel the matter is now closed."

On Thursday Smith leads a South African side at Edgbaston in the first of five Tests against England.

The tourists are outsiders for the series, and will be significantly weakened by the absence of Jacques Kallis who is spending time with his terminally-ill father.

Links to more Eng v SA 2003 stories




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