New Delhi: Barry Richards is considered to be one of the finest ever opening batsmen. He recently spoke to CNN-IBN's Himanshu Singhal about the fast maturing Proteas captain Graeme Smith and while he is impressed with Sehwag, there is a rider.
Barry Richards: I think India are the second-best side in the sub-continent. They have got two good spinners in Kumble and Harbhajan. South Africa only has one in Paul Harris, so it is two versus one, which is always going to be difficult on turning tracks. So I will say India are the favourites in the Test series. But South Africa are tough. They are a good team, good unit, fight till the end. So all in all it is going to be a very good Test series.
Himanshu Singhal: Graeme Smith in terms of man management and opening batsman, your assessment of him plus the problem areas that you want him to work on.
Barry Richards: He was very young when he was thrust on to the job and he has been there for five years now. I think he is learning all the time. When he came in he was a little bull-headed and say whatever he wanted to. And as a captain you have to be a little circumspect, you got to think it through but you learn with experience. I think off the field he was struggling a little bit early on in his career as a captain, but he is maturing all the time.
From a batting point of view he always has been a very good player. I think he relishes his batting with the captaincy. There are some players when they are made captain, it affects their batting because they are not leading from the front. But with Graeme, he enjoys his captaincy and I don't think there is anybody else who can do it apart from Jacques Kallis, who I don't think wants to do it. He is there, he has been appointed, he has been supported and in time I think he will bring South African cricket back.
Himanshu Singhal: How do you rate the Indian opening pair of Wasim Jaffer and Virender Sehwag. Would you say that they are the best pair in recent times as far as India is concerned?
Barry Richards: Probably, as far as India is concerned. It depends where they are playing. Indians forget very quickly. On hard and bouncy wickets, Virender was not even in the Test team. In Australia where it is bouncy, he gets found out. The only way you can judge a cricketer is when he has played under all conditions and under all bowlers.