So many precious sportsmen take pride in avoiding the media – not reading newspapers, not listening to the radio and not watching the news on television. On some occasions that approach has undeniable merit, but for the most part they are simply taking pride in being ignorant.
Not so Graeme Smith. He read the article in an English Sunday newspaper which suggested he and Shaun Pollock had a ‘problem’ and he immediately shared the reading with his supposed protagonist.
“We had a good laugh – it was absolute rubbish,” Smith laughed at his final press conference ahead of the first Test against England at Edgbaston in Birmingham. “I got this black eye in the last warm-up game when I was hit in the nets but I told Polly that I was going to tell the media that we’d had a rumble! It’s just so silly.”
Smith is an avid reader – he even reads this column. That much became clear when he made immediate eye contact and smiled when asked about the ‘splits in the camp’. Forewarned is forearmed. He is unafraid of criticism and is self confident enough to expose himself to even the most outrageous nonsense.
“Just a bit of pre-Test psychology,” was how Smith dismissed Nasser Hussain’s reference to the ‘divisions’ in the SA squad. But the South African skipper then showed he wasn’t afraid to engage in a little mental tap dancing himself.
“They’ve got two captains in the team (Hussain and one-day skipper Michael Vaughan) so that’s bound to create a few tensions. There’s been speculation about Nasser’s future…he wouldn’t be human if he wasn’t feeling a bit of pressure.” Clever boy. Touche.
Such phoney wars don’t often count for anything on the field but they are pure honey for journalists and, of course, having the media on your side – or at least sympathetic – is like having an extra fielder for an international captain.
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