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Brave Smith beaten but not down

Graeme Smith
Not even the heroics of Smith could save the South Africans

South African Graeme Smith revealed why he changed his mind and decided to bat with a broken hand in the final Test defeat against Australia.

The tourists came within 10 balls of drawing the third Test in Sydney but Smith's wicket sealed Australia's win.

"I decided I was going to give it a go and give it my best shot and if I got a first-baller or whatever at least I tried," the captain said.

"It was about getting out there and doing the best you can."

Smith, who broke his left hand in the first innings and was also nursing an injured right elbow, batted at number 11 as the Proteas went close to achieving a memorable result.

South Africa had already won the series and the captain, along with tail-ender Makhaya Ntini (28 not out), held Australia at bay for 29 minutes in Sydney before being bowled by Mitchell Johnson.

The wicket gave Australia the 103-run win and Smith added: "I didn't really expect to go out. Deep inside I didn't really want to get out there.

"I probably decided 25 overs out, 26 overs out I was going to bat. I arrived here without any kit and had some pants I'd shoved into my cricket bag to protect my bats.

"I stole a shirt off Jacques (Kallis) and a pullover off Harry (Paul Harris) that still had his hamburger stain on the front left side of it. I had Morne (Morkel) dressing me and putting my shoes on and pads.


"Obviously there's a lot of pain. Once one ball hit the bat I thought 'OK, that's one out the way'. I told myself 'just keep watching the ball and hoping that it hits the bat the whole time'."

Following their wins in Perth and Melbourne, South Africa took the series 2-1 and Smith admitted they could have sealed the clean sweep.

"We had our opportunities in the game early on," he said. "We dropped our catches for the first time in a long time and it probably cost us the game.

"It was part of a great series, this finish, and it sets up a terrific home series in South Africa."

Australia captain Ricky Ponting believed his team deserved the victory and reflected on the positives despite the series defeat.

"It's been a really rewarding period for the young guys in particular," said Ponting. "I'm very proud of the way we bounced back.

"It's always hard coming back in a series when you're 2-0 down and have probably been in positions in the first two games that you could have won Test matches as well.

"It says a lot about the character of the side to get back up off the canvas and put up a performance like we have this week.

"But you've got to give South Africa some credit for the way they did it in Perth with the run chase and the way they turned things around in Melbourne as well."

The world's three leading news agencies are not covering the series because of a dispute with Cricket Australia.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press have suspended all coverage of the 2008-09 season.

Their photographers and reporters did not supply material from within the ground. As a result, we cannot use pictures from the current match.

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see also
Australia secure consolation win
07 Jan 09 |  Cricket
Paceman Lee faces five months out
04 Jan 09 |  Australia
SA skipper Smith breaks his hand
04 Jan 09 |  South Africa
Clarke century boosts Australia
04 Jan 09 |  Cricket
Aussies lick their wounds
30 Dec 08 |  Cricket

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