• England v South Africa, 3rd Test, Lord's, 5th day

Smith relieved after nervy finish

ESPNcricinfo staff
August 20, 2012 « Strauss plays down resignation talks | Chartbeat test »
Vernon Philander was the star for South Africa as he took 5 for 30 in the second innings © PA Photos
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Graeme Smith was breathing a sigh of relief after South Africa secured a 51-run victory at Lord's to rise to top the world Test rankings. They were given a scare during the final session, as Matt Prior and Graeme Swann had a dart before the second new ball, but they held their nerve and Vernon Philander finished the series with two wickets in two balls.

"It was a top Test match, the wicket played its part and both teams played well," Smith said. "We really had to set up the game and work hard for that. There was some great batting from Matt Prior and Graeme Swann, some great shots, to put us under pressure and it was wonderful to come through.

"I stayed with the belief. You do start to have nervous moments but you just have to stay focused and know that they would have to do something spectacular. Vernon got it perfect."

Andrew Strauss had admitted England were outplayed in all departments during the series and Smith pinpointed South Africa's ability to post big totals - led by their 637 for 2 at The Oval - as a key part of their success.

"We are able to post totals and build partnerships to get scores on the board which allowed out bowlers a little more freedom," he said. "It allowed them to attack and get the rewards. We caught well, too. It's a long time to stay focused and deal with the pressure. To have won 2-0 is a great feeling."

During the presentation Smith carried a hastily scribbled message to Mark Boucher on his shirt. 'We miss u Bouch' it simply read after the wicketkeeper had been forced to retire during the early days of the tour when he sustained an awful eye injury at Taunton.

"I know that he is watching," Smith said. "It's a message from all of us. He's been an integral part of Proteas for 147 games and this was meant to be his 150th Test. We just wanted to let him know he was with us here today."

Looking ahead, Smith acknowledged that it would not be easy to hold on to top spot, as England have spent the last year finding out, and wants South Africa to develop a strong squad of players.

"We need to have a strong base so when the wind blows we can handle ourselves," he said. "We need to increase our bowling depth in case we get injuries and have players who can come in and perform. These guys have built a formidable unit but we have Australia next and that will be an awesome challenge for us. Hopefully we can push forward and take control."

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