Biff hints at future SA role

2014-03-05 22:46

Cape Town – Outgoing Proteas Test captain Graeme Smith seems unlikely to be completely lost to the national cause.

He has also said that the seeds for his decision to retire, now after well over a decade at the helm, had been sown when Gary Kirsten, also a former team-mate, had stepped down as South Africa’s coach.

At an emotional press conference – both for Smith and the assembled scribes -- following the tense defeat to Australia in the decisive third Test at Newlands here on Wednesday, the 33-year-old said: “There are certain challenges to be met and I would love to play a role in helping Cricket South Africa with those things.

“Who knows where that will be in the future, but I feel I have gained a lot of experience with a lot of people over many years and feel I still have a lot to offer South African cricket.

“I will cherish the relationships I have developed within this team for the rest of my life. We have a diverse, strong culture ... we have earned so many wonderful victories around the world. The diversity of this team is our strength, and I have been proud to build and embrace that environment.

“I wish the Proteas all the success in the world and hope they go from strength to strength. I hope the players in there really embrace the opportunities that come their way and give our fans things to be proud of in the years to come.

“I know I will be somewhere, whether it be on the couch or part of some organisation ... I don’t know where it is right now ... but I know I will be a big supporter of the team for the rest of my life.”

Asked whether the retirement of his friend and veteran team-mate Jacques Kallis over the festive season had made him think more deeply about his own playing future for the Proteas, Smith replied: “It was certainly already on my mind then (at the Kingsmead Test, when SA clinched the series against India). But I think when Gary left as coach ... that was when the process sort of started for me.

“I still feel I could perform, and perform well, over the next period of time, but I have a real peace inside of myself that this was the time for me to go.”

Smith lauded the Baggy Greens: “We’ve been outplayed in this Test match (he said Australia deserved the 2-1 series win – Sport24) but we still found a way to take the last Test as deep as possible.

“The skill, determination and mental strength we showed today – a lot of guys changed their natural game-plans – nearly made for a fairytale.

“It’s been a fighting series for us more than a well played series, (but) I saw enough qualities today to remind that the Proteas will stay really strong for a period of time. We showed strength of character.”

Inevitably quizzed about his decision to announce his retirement in mid-Test, Smith explained: “It felt like the time was right for me. The want in me was to do it before this Test started but there was stuff going on ... my daughter in and out of hospital ... you kind of get distracted.

“So to get that last step, I took it in the game. I realised this is the place I wanted to end my career; it felt right. It took courage to get that last five percent to finally make the decision. I felt it was time to move on.”

He produced some vintage diplomacy when asked about the pitches presented for the home series, where decks seldom favouring SA’s seamers were presented and it has been whispered there was dissatisfaction in the Proteas dressing room.

“I don’t know if this is the right place to get into that now. There are some important things that need to be tightened a little bit. An environment needs to be created that can make success for these players.”

Similarly, when asked how difficult it was to captain South Africa, he dead-batted cleverly: “Guys, I think today is a day that I would like to celebrate that opportunity I had.

“The challenges are always well documented and spoken about, and maybe over-elaborated at times, but I think it’s a huge privilege to lead this country.

“It’s a really proud sporting nation, and I’ve been proud to lead (the national cricket team) for 12 years. I only see that as a highlight.”   

The likelihood that Smith will find some sort of future role with CSA – mentoring comes particularly to mind as an obvious start – was probably only enhanced when CEO Haroon Lorgat paid tribute to Smith at the start of the press conference.

He began by saying: “Welcome to what may or may not be Graeme’s last press conference because I think a person of Graeme Smith’s stature will (reappear) somewhere or the other.

“We owe Graeme a lot of gratitude and admire what he has achieved and I am sure he will be involved in some form or the other ... it’s up to him to decide, and we will certainly listen to him as he is a man of leadership quality.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • Jon Low - 2014-03-05 23:13

    He ought to understudy a seasoned top-level coach and assist and bag-carry for a few years before becoming a head coach.

      Pam Stevens - 2014-03-06 16:19

      For the good of South African cricket, he should stay away as far as possible, he has done enough damage! He can be a couch potato in Ireland.

  • Rudi Renison - 2014-03-05 23:20

    Jirre, somebody know a plastic surgeon specializing on Irish knees?

      Trix Roux - 2014-03-06 00:01

      Who cares if they're around you neck?

      Klipkop de Groote - 2014-03-06 08:30

      and you are brown and white with long ugly ears and a snout.

  • Tholakele Mngadi - 2014-03-05 23:28

    Owh NO! What role Smith exactly? If perhaps you trying to cut a pattern from the likes of Dave Richardson, Gary K, Allan D, Hudson, etc. Think again my friend, their attitude towards the game of cricket was different from yours. Your arrogance almost lead to your downfall. I think if you want to have a role, just go the commentating route (for SABC3) during tours. Or better still just follow Cullinan and be the ''expert'' in studio of CNBS Cricket. From the age of 22 to 28 you were a great cricketer, than all of a sudden you thought you were bigger than the game. I always view you as a ''KP Lite''.

      Ken Alles - 2014-03-06 01:04

      Haha Drol, sorry i meant Troll...

      Selwyn Breytenbach - 2014-03-06 03:43


  • Charl du Preez - 2014-03-06 00:19

    If you say you're going to retire...please stick to it. Go on a world cruise, learn to bake, plant a garden, but for heavens sake move on!!!!!!

  • lizdon.ferguson - 2014-03-06 00:32

    Sorry that your daughter is ill. But if you are totally honest, you wanted one last go at glory, and when it never came for you, mid test, you retired? Might have been better to opt out before the test or at least suck it up until the end. did give the supporters some great games during your time.

  • Jeandre' Esterhuizen - 2014-03-06 00:41

    What a joke if you're surname is smith you get 3 years extra john smith bismarck was better 3 years prior graem smith dean elgar look at smith's average over the last 3 to 4 years and you will see it below 30 fanx for putting pressure on your players captain I'll have a laugh while they fight it out.

      Michael Morris - 2014-03-06 17:49

      You are rambling. Punctuation, please.

  • Wayne Hambides - 2014-03-06 01:21

    Good riddance KP come captain SA

      Michael Morris - 2014-03-06 17:50

      What do you have against South Africa?

  • optic.furnace - 2014-03-06 01:56

    Thanks for all the great memories Mr Smith, go well.

  • Chris In Oz - 2014-03-06 02:43

    Just don't become the batting coach. Please!!

  • Sibusiso Banda - 2014-03-06 03:14

    I blame him for our loss yesterday. He was very selfish in announcinng his retirement from the game. The team just lost the momentum on Monday and they never recovered from his shock resignation.

      Terry Burne - 2014-03-06 08:06

      What momentum? You clearly have no clue - we had no momentum from the first over on day 1 of this test, and were fighting a rear-guard action from the time we lost the toss. The fact that we almost held on for a draw was probably down to the fact that the team fought harder, and players batted out of character in a superb effort to try and avoid losing on his last test match - and that was probably down to the fact that he did announce his retirement during the match.

  • Franklin Meiring - 2014-03-06 03:21

    smith is a cowardi dont know what to call him,he knows for good he is not going to play in the next world cup,however he istep right into the irish team,as captain and opening batsmen.

      Brendan Keith Shaw - 2014-03-06 04:57

      I tell you what. Go tell that to his face or better yet, face Mitchell Johnson or Dale Steyn or morne Morkel

  • leon.toerien - 2014-03-06 05:06

    Oh noooooo!

  • Dirk Engelbrecht - 2014-03-06 06:11

    Cool, all the best Smith, bey bey... now we can start winning some tournaments...

      Michael Morris - 2014-03-06 17:54

      We won tournaments before he became captain? Except for the ICC trophy a long time ago, the other captains were just as clueless.

  • Altus Kirsten - 2014-03-06 06:56

    Please don't coach!

  • Gilliaume Strydom - 2014-03-06 07:09

    All of you Biff haters are going tp eat these words in a few years when you realize what an amazing caprain and leader from the front he was. Luckely NONE of the players read these pathetic comments! You are all just fickle fans and support only when its going great, but when its going tough... which happens even to the best... you dade and blame BIFF. You people are pathetic and dont deserce to xall yourself protea fans!

      David McCallum - 2014-03-06 08:16

      like the anc supporters ,not going so well so blame apartheid

  • Drake Richardson - 2014-03-06 07:47

    Perfect position for him. ....... batting consultant!

  • Johnny B Goode - 2014-03-06 08:22

    If I have to remember you fondly I will think of that Sunday, on my couch, 1 over done on the way to 438.

  • Cynthia Pon - 2014-03-06 13:47

    I love watch cricket and support SA team, it is fun. but reading your comments make me sick, so negative and mean, the person is retiring , don't you have a little heart to wish someone well !! does it make you feel good ???

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