London - South Africa cricket captain Graeme
Smith has joined Surrey as their new skipper, the English county
announced on Thursday, in a move that will prompt fresh speculation
about his international future.
Smith, currently leading the
Proteas on their tour of Australia, will join Oval-based Surrey after
the conclusion of South Africa's home series against Pakistan in March,
in time for the start of the 2013 English domestic season.
31-year-old opener stood down as South Africa's one-day captain after
last year's World Cup and no longer plays Twenty20 internationals.
But he insisted that he still wanted to continue representing his country, despite signing a three-year deal with Surrey.
am excited about what we can achieve at Surrey going forward and would
like to state very clearly that I will balance my new role alongside my
continuing commitments to the Proteas and I look forward to continuing
to represent my country for many years to come," he said in a statement
issued by the First Division county.
Smith has been South Africa
captain since 2003, having first led his country aged just 22, and this
year guided the Proteas to the top of the world Test rankings after a
series win in England.
It was at The Oval in June where Smith, who
has been captain in an extraordinary 94 of his 102 Tests, became only
the seventh player in history to score a hundred in his 100th Test, when
he made 131.
He replaces Rory Hamilton-Brown who stood down as
Surrey captain, and who has since joined Sussex, following the death of
his friend and team-mate Tom Maynard in June.
Smith, who had
initially played down reports of a move to the county, said: "I am
excited to be joining such a professional and talented team, during what
will hopefully prove to be a rewarding and successful period for Surrey
"When you consider the ambition shown it was an easy
decision for myself and my family and I would like to thank Surrey
County Cricket Club and Cricket South Africa for giving me the
opportunity to lead the side and make it possible."
The timing of
the announcement could prove a distraction to the Proteas ahead of the
start of a three-Test series against Australia in Brisbane a week on
In addition to his leadership qualities, left-hander Smith
is widely regarded as one of the world's leading batsmen with a Test
record of 8 314 runs at an average of just under 50, including 25
"Signing Graeme Smith on a three-year deal is a massive
coup for Surrey CCC," said team director and former England batsman
"As well as being one of the best captains in the
modern game, he is a phenomenal opening batsman and will lead by example
from the top of the innings.
"By signing a three-year deal,
Graeme has demonstrated his commitment to Surrey on a long-term basis
and I look forward to working alongside him and the rest of our hugely
talented squad to bring more silverware to this club in the near