Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I should have left England earlier - Smith

I should have left England earlier - Smith.

Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, has said he should have withdrawn from the England tour a month earlier after suffering a tennis elbow ahead of the one-day series against the hosts. The England tour, which marked the end of a tiring year for most South African players, ended on a poor note for the visitors with a 4-0 defeat in the ODIs, but it also brought them their first Test series win on English soil since 1965.

"My injury first surfaced in the IPL and gradually worsened throughout the England tour. I played with painkillers from the time we landed [in England] and it was about biting the bullet and getting out on the field. Sometimes I hardly trained and just did enough to prepare myself mentally for matches," Smith wrote in his diary for

He said the pain became terrible during the third Test at Edgbaston, where he scored a match-winning hundred to clinch the series. "I should probably have called it a day then, but when you are captain it can be difficult to let go - you feel responsible for the team. It got so bad I had to change my grip on the bat handle just to find a way of relieving the pain."

Smith hoped the injury wouldn't come back after the rest and rehabilitation in South Africa. "I had a cortisone injection in the tendon and I'm trying to stay away from surgery at this time. With the amount of international cricket as well, schedules are becoming tighter but ultimately I am doing what I love doing so I am certainly not complaining."

He credited Kevin Pietersen with doing a good job for England in the one-day series but believed South Africa had put a lot of emphasis on one goal - winning the Test series. "We had been like a hot air balloon where we reached such great heights of winning the Test series and after that we just popped. We were so determined at the start of the tour to become the first side since readmission to win a Test series in England that we sort of relaxed once that was achieved."