Graeme Smith plays despite broken hand

The history books will show that Australia beat South Africa by 103 runs in the final test in...

Proteas captain Graeme Smith speaks at the Mutual & Federal Cricket Annual Cricketer of the Year awards at the Wanderers Club on 20 October 2008

The history books will show that Australia beat South Africa by 103 runs in the final test in Sydney.

Mitchell Johnson picked up the final wicket with five minutes remaining to give Australia a consolation win, leaving the series 2-1 in South Africa’s favour.

What will most likely be remembered was the manner in which Graham Smith earned the respect of Australia’s cricket-loving public.

As the Aussies and crowds celebrated an apparent win, Smith walked out to try and save the test match with a broken hand and an elbow so painful that he apparently struggled to brush his teeth.

The crowd realised what was happening and Smith was given a standing ovation.

Smith survived for 29 minutes with Makhaya Ntini when Johnson nipped a ball back off a crack in the wearing pitch to bowl the skipper with just a few overs to hang on.

The end should have come earlier with Australia dropping a few standard catches en route to the win but as far as emotion went, it was a fitting way to bring the curtain down on the series.

South Africa will not be the official number one team when the ICC release the rankings but that hardly matters at a time that the South African public are starting to believe in test cricket once again.