Under-fire Smith lets his bat do the talking
Cape Town: Graeme Smith hoped his captain`s knock that led South Africa to a spectacular victory in the first Test would finally silence his critics while his Australian counterpart Michael Clarke lambasted his team for an abysmal performance with bat and ball.
Chasing 236 for an unlikely win after a bizarre second day in which 23 wickets fell and parts of all four innings took place, Smith (101 not out) and Hashim Amla (112) propelled the hosts to an eight-wicket victory on Friday.
The tourists had established a 188-run lead, after skittling South Africa for 96 in the first innings, but were then promptly bowled out for 47 - their lowest Test total in 109 years.
However, Australia`s humiliating collapse allowed Smith`s men to redeem themselves in a Test that had appeared to be a lost cause for the first two days.
"I couldn`t imagine winning from that position, it`s got to be one of the greatest comebacks in Test history," said Smith, who was severely criticised following South Africa`s failure at the World Cup earlier this year.
He was also slammed for flying to Ireland to get engaged at the end of the 50-over tournament, rather than returning straight home.
"From my perspective, it`s been a really tough period and I hope I`ve managed to win a few people over. It`s right up there for me in terms of individual performances.
BIG JOB "One or two things said about me hurt a lot, they were very personal and crossed the line. But that`s the nature of the job and I just had to knuckle down. It was a big job getting my confidence and self-esteem back, and today was the reward.
"I just wanted to talk with my skills, perform with the bat," he added.
As far as opposing captain Clarke was concerned, Australia failed in every department in the match even though they had established what looked like a match-winning lead after the first innings.
"I`ve never been more disappointed, firstly at my own performance. If anyone in our team does not have pain eating away at them now, then they shouldn`t be playing sport," Clarke, who scored 151 out of 284 in Australia`s first innings, said.
"I`m not trying to hide from how bad our batting was, but even if we`d scored 600 in our second innings, the way we bowled today there would still have been a chance of losing.”
"It was not good enough with the ball today and a couple of costly catches were also dropped.”
"We were okay in patches but not good enough against top opposition."