The Castle Lager Proteas' captain, Graeme Smith, will go to bed a relieved man after successfully making a return to International cricket after a serious ankle operation which has kept him out of action for almost six months. Smith batted for nearly 10 hours in trying hot conditions to score his fifth Test double century, and to give the Proteas firm control of the second Test against Pakistan at the Dubai International Stadium.
" My ankle held up extremely well which I'm grateful for," an exhausted Smith told the media. " I've put in a lot of hard work over the last period since I came off crutches, it was a big surgery so there were a lot of times where I wasn't sure how it will hold up and if it will handle, its all paid off today. There are a lot of people to thank for getting me to this point, even though I had to do all the work."
Smith passed several records on his way to 227 not out at stumps on day two, and is humbled to be amongst company of some of the legends of world cricket.
"To be honest I certainly wasn't thinking about those (milestones) things today," he admitted. " I don't think I've ever been the most talented batter but I have found a way to score runs and understand mentally how to do it. Especially opening the batting in South Africa which has its challenges, so to be at the point where I'm told I am is a tick for me in terms of what I have been able to achieve in my career. There is still a lot that I'd love to do but they are small milestones that make you very proud, there are not many openers that get to this point,so I'm extremely happy and happy for the support I have received over the years."
The record fifth-wicket partnership with AB de Villiers was equally rewarding for the skipper, who enjoyed sharing his success with his close friend.
"Our innings was still in the balance when we lost Dale this morning," he said. " To get AB in and the way he played to transfer the pressure made my life a lot easier, it was a terrific knock from him. I think at that point to say we would be this far ahead at the end of play I would have taken that.
" For me to score a double-hundred in sub-continent conditions with the heat is something I'm proud of," he added. " To have such a big partnership with AB, he is a world class player and it was a key moment in the game when the two of us came together. We are good friends so it was awesome to share the occasion and the milestones with each other."
The Proteas hold the upper hand with three days left to play in the match, but Smith remained modest when questioned about the Proteas' looming victory.
" I' d like to think that we are in a position where we could," he said of winning. "Who knows, that is sport and you can't predict things. We have to come out tomorrow and work ourselves into a position where we feel that we have enough runs to win the game. I think the wicket is deteriorating which is going to offer us a good opportunity. We definitely have the attack that can take advantage if we can get a really good lead."