In his tenure as national captain, the Proteas soared and entrenched themselves as number-1 test nation in the world. They also achieved test-series wins in England and Australia in both 2008 and 2012 with Smith as their leader.
In all, Smith won 53 of his 108 tests in charge as national captain, while making the winning speech in 92 of 149 games as helmsman in One Day Internationals.
Smith was given the captaincy of the national team at the tender age of 22 years and 44 days.
On the tour of England in 2003, he smashed 277 and 259 in his first two tests.
Strong, muscular and with splendid hand-eye coordination, the temperament of a heavyweight knock-out specialist and the determination of a Comrades-ultramarathon-runner, Smith would become a world-class opener.
Bowl anything on middle- and off or middle- and leg to Smith at your own peril, because he would whip it through midwicket or past square for a boundary.
When on song, and he usually was, Smith would pounce on anything remotely full and play it through the leg-side, or square cut anything slightly wide off off-stump past point. He also developed the cover drive handsomely in the latter stages of an illustrious career.
A feature of Smith’s batting was his ability to power the test teams in the fourth innings with exemplary and determined batting.
In the fourth innings in Wellington in 2004, Smith scored 125 and featured in a century-stand with Gary Kirsten in his farewell-test, to guide South Africa to victory.
Smith would manage this feat again in 2008, when on a turning pitch at Edgbaston, he scored a masterful unbeaten 154 to secure the series-win against England.
The left-hander was not blessed with a perfect technique, and occasionally the purists would frown on his grip and his tendency to push at the swing bowler or off-spinner with an angled bat.
He answered those critics with 27 test centuries and 10 ODI-tons.
The SA captain led from the front in his 108 at the WACA in Perth when South Africa reached 414 for four in a fourth innings in 2008.
It was Smith who managed another ton in a fourth innings to frustrate and down the Baggy Greens at Newlands in 2001, when his unbeaten 101 took South Africa home.
As a leader of men, Smith demanded high standards, and followed his own instincts. He was up-front and direct, and never flinched. He was given a standing ovation when he walked onto the pitch with a broken hand to face Mitchell Johnson in the third test at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January 2009.
Smith had a fearless and attacking mind-set.
Although he scored ten ODI-centuries, arguably his greatest performance came in the series-clinching fifth ODI against Australia at the Wanderers when he scored a sensational 90 off 55 balls to set up a thrilling one-day win against Australia with one ball to spare in March 2006.
Although critics started doubting his batting in 2013, he pounced on some loose bowling by Pakistan in Dubai to score 234 for the Proteas.
Smith announced his retirement from international cricket in March 2014.
Upon his retirement, Kirsten, a former SA coach, hailed Smith as the greatest captain South Africa ever produced.