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Blogs - through my eyes

Giants say goodbye to Test Cricket...

During my international cricketing career I have been fortunate enough to be involved in Ricky Ponting’s last international game in Perth and I played in Andrew Strauss` last Test Match at Lords.

I was also supposed to be involved in Sachin Tendulkar’s last match, but that wasn’t to be and was something way out of our control.

Very recently we saw arguably the greatest cricketer of our generation Jacques Kallis decide to quit Test Cricket at Kingsmead, and a few months later the greatest Test captain of all time Graeme Smith called it a day at fortress Newlands.

Have I ever deserved to see, and be involved in giants of the game calling it quits I don't know, however I will share those experiences with you.

I fondly remember it was just before the Kingsmead Test against India that Kallis announced that it was to be his last match for South Africa.

I guess we all knew the time would eventually come; yet we were never prepared for that moment. We were stunned, and shared in his emotion especially when family members and his good mate Mark Boucher gave a video message the night before the game. 

If ever there was a time that you would just know, one last time, that Jacques was focused on being in the zone, that would be the time and so it proved to be. For so long he was the rock in the South African team, a giant of the game once more stood up and guided us to a score to set up the Test match - his 45th Test century in his final Test innings.

When we chased 60 odd in the fourth innings to win the Test and the series, there was a sense that, while we needed to focus on winning the game, there was an extra set of responsibility on me, and I'm sure with Graeme as well, that we must make sure we finish this job and allow the “old man” to not have any thoughts of another innings, after all, we wanted his last innings to be a century, and so it was!

I can tell you now life without Jacques will always be testing; after all he was the greatest.

After that we move onto the man who led the Proteas to Number One in the world, a leader with an aura and charisma, a man of action who doesn’t just talk the talk, but he walked the walk as well.

At the age of 22 he was tasked with what some called the impossible task and yet looking back, he achieved that impossible dream.

Graeme Smith was a man that led from the front irrespective of circumstances. He was a man that backed his team to the hilt who supported and protected their decisions. He was a leader when the sun shined, and when the rain fell, and I'm honoured to have played with this selfless leader.

It was on the evening of the third day of the Newlands Test against Australia, that a tearful and emotional Smith announced to the team that this would be his last Test for South Africa. There was silence and minds raced a millions miles because he had ben our leader and a brilliant one too.

Sadly we went on to lose that Test Match which so came to an end the international career of a man who had only one thing in mind, and that was the progress of South African Cricket.

I wish them both an enjoyable retirement, knowing they won't be far away. However they won't be there when we need their greatness once more that we so often relied on.

One thing for sure is that we will miss them, and life without South Africa’s two greatest players in the last decade will be tough, but we need to find inspiration in their greatness. After all, greatness is never a given, it must be earned.

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Alviro Petersen is committed to the development and empowerment of disadvantaged communities. The Alviro Petersen Foundation is a registered non-profit organization and invest in projects that focus on education and community upliftment.

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