It already feels late to be writing about Graeme Smith. Most of what needed to be said - and this, in truth, wasn't a player to inspire great literature - has been said. Best and most comprehensively of all by Jarrod Kimber here.
Time is short, and so one memory from the mind's eye will suffice.
It is a sunlit Lord's evening, 3rd August 2003. South Africa are about to defeat England. Graeme Smith, 22 years old and South Africa's captain, stands with his hands on the shoulders of Makhaya Ntini. Ntini has taken nine wickets in the game; he will take ten. Smith himself has scored 259.
Smith fixes Ntini with an unwavering gaze and speaks quietly, assuring him, reassuring him, that victory is about to be theirs. Its significance could go unstated, but Smith recognizes the importance of the moment and seizes it.
It is a gesture which speaks of gravitas and maturity.
This is a man destined to captain his country for a very long time.
9 hours ago