Birth of the first player to captain in 100 Tests. The selectors took a rather big gamble when, after a disastrous campaign in the 2003 World Cup, they handed the captaincy to inexperienced 22-year-old Graeme Smith, the youngest to take charge of South Africa.
He soon impressed with back-to-back double-centuries on the 2003 tour of England. Defeats came the way of a team in transition, but Smith continued to score big at the top of the order. The thrill of chasing 434 in an ODI against Australia was muted by a 3-0 Test loss to Australia in 2006, and an embarrassing loss in the World Cup semi-final the next year. However, the 2-1 home win against India in 2006-07 kick-started a phenomenal run for the South African Test side under Smith. They conquered Pakistan, Bangladesh (he put on a record opening stand of 415 with Neil McKenzie in Chittagong) and England, and the icing on the cake was a historic series win in Australia late in 2008. More overseas wins piled up under his watch, and in 2012, after beating England 2-0, South Africa became the No. 1 Test side. That year they did not lose a single Test – beating Australia 1-0 too in a memorable away series. Smith retired from international cricket after a series defeat to Australia at home in 2014.