Choose Biff to bat for your life

Graeme Smith was just 22 when given the captaincy, and while his batting has seen several troughs to accompany the peaks, he has mastered the art of grinding out the runs when the team most needs them. All four of his fourth-innings centuries (he averages 55.7 then) have resulted in memorable South African wins.

updated: February 10, 2013 19:04 IST
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Bangalore: It's hard to say where the phrase 'bat for your life' originated, but like many cricket clichés, it skirts the thin line between mirth and nonsense. Seriously, how stupid would you have to be to leave your fate in the hands of someone tackling a projectile hurled at speed with just a piece of willow that can't be more than 38 inches long and 4.25 inches wide?

Once you lose the hyperbole though, the sentiment behind the expression is clear. Just who would you trust to bail you out in a crisis? Who can keep a calm head when those around him are flustered? Whose composure gives less confident teammates the belief to hang around?

In the three decades that I've watched the sport, there have been quite a few who seemed to save their best for the most arduous situations. The mistake we often make is to try and analyse purely on the basis of numbers, figures that often reveal nothing of the match situation.

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