Smith news surprised Corrie
Graeme Smith (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg – Graeme Smith’s decision to quit as South Africa’s Twenty20 cricket captain was so sudden that it even caught Proteas coach Corrie van Zyl unawares.
Van Zyl, who replaced Mickey Arthur earlier this year and is currently touring with the country’s second string team in Sri Lanka, told Sport24 that he was “unaware” of the Cricket South Africa (CSA) news conference that had earlier been hastily arranged or Smith’s intention of resigning.
The 29-year-old left-handed batsman indicated that he is quitting as Twenty20 captain and that he will also not captain the one-day side after next year’s World Cup on the sub-continent.
The tournament in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh ends early in April.
Smith, who became the country’s youngest captain at age 22 in 2003, will continue as Test skipper.
“I have been considering standing down from at least one version of the game for a while, but I only took the decision this past week,” said Smith.
“I have been captain for eight of my nine years with the Proteas and am relieved to have fewer responsibilities.”
He said that he had tried to keep the news “as confidential as possible”.
“I only let some of my family and friends know at 05:00 (Wednesday morning) so that there weren’t any rumours. I also sent each of my team-mates an SMS and I’m sure Corrie also got one.”
CSA chief executive Gerald Majola said that the national selection committee and the governing body’s executive committee would soon decide on a successor for Smith.
AB de Villiers is the big favourite, though Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, JP Duminy and Alviro Petersen are also being mentioned as candidates.
Smith believes it “makes sense” to have different captains.
“Australia has already showed that it can work and although my team-mates are disappointed, they are also excited about the new challenges that lie ahead for the next captain,” he said.
“My advice to him is just to be yourself straight away. It took me a long time to achieve that because I wanted to prove everyone wrong and that impacted negatively on several of my relationships.”