Smith: Leading SA a privilege

2014-03-04 10:26

Cape Town - South African Graeme Smith, international cricket's longest-serving captain, sprang a shock on Monday as he announced he would retire from all international cricket after the current third Test against Australia at Newlands.

GALLERY: Biff in pictures

The 33-year-old - whose long-time team-mate Jacques Kallis retired from test cricket in December though he wants to remain part of the one day side - had said only on Friday that he still had things to achieve in international cricket.

However, after another batting failure in the present series, he made just five in the first innings on Monday he decided it was time to call it a day and told his team-mates of his decision.

"This has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life.

"It's a decision that I have been considering since my ankle surgery in April last year.

"I have a young family to consider, and I felt that retiring at Newlands would be the best way to end it because I have called this place home since I was 18 years old."

Smith captained South Africa in 108 Test matches, including the present match, over 11 years.

He also captained a World XI against Australia in Sydney in 2005. His total of 109 Test captaincies is 16 more than the previous record held by Allan Border of Australia.

He has captained South Africa to 53 wins, beating Australian Ricky Ponting's record of 48 wins as a Test captain. Under his leadership, South Africa lost 27 matches and drew 27, excluding the current Test.

His shock announcement came after he told journalists at his pre-Test press conference on Friday he had no plans to retire.

"There are still things I want to achieve in the game," said Smith, who when he first led the side, against Bangladesh in 2003, was the third youngest captain in Test history.

Under his leadership South Africa rose to become the number one team in Test cricket.

In 38 series of two matches or more he has had 22 series wins and seven losses, with nine drawn.

South Africa have not been beaten in a series since Australia beat them in 2008/09 - although they are in danger of defeat in the current third Test in a series which is tied at one-all.

His record includes two away series wins against both England and Australia - a feat achieved by no other captain.

By his own admission it took time for him to mature as captain after being one of the youngest players in the squad when he was appointed.

When he was offered the captaincy his father, Graham, tried to dissuade him, arguing that he would be better qualified for the job when he had gained more experience.

Smith, though, had no hesitation in accepting.

"I had wanted the job since I was 13 and I honestly believed I could do it," he said soon after his appointment.

"It's been an incredibly special ride," he said last season on the eve of his 100th Test as captain.

"It hasn't always been easy. There have been some incredibly tough times. I've had to grow to come through those times and to start to enjoy success and to feel comfortable in the position and in myself."

Smith said it had been a privilege to lead his country for so long.

"I have always been someone who has left everything out there on the field for my team and for my country."

Cricket South Africa chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, said he had been surprised by the decision.

"Although Graeme's decision to retire from all forms of international cricket comes as a surprise to all of us, we must respect him for deciding to call time.

"I would like us to remember Graeme for his nerves of steel and his match-winning performances that were synonymous with some of the most remarkable fourth innings victory chases of all time."

Smith captained South Africa in 149 one-day internationals before relinquishing the role in 2010. South Africa won 92 matches under his leadership, with 51 losses, one tie and five no-results.

He also captained South Africa in 27 Twenty20 internationals, winning 18 and losing nine.

As a determined left-handed opening batsman, Smith has scored 9,262 runs in 117 Tests at an average of 48.49 with a second innings against Australia to come.

In 347 international matches across all formats he scored 17 228 runs.


  • Bull Dozer - 2014-03-04 10:51

    His record speaks for itself. Screw the ignorant.

      Avon Asac - 2014-03-04 11:01

      100% correct.

      Harris Philip - 2014-03-04 11:14

      Absolutely his record speaks for itself....I am just surprised that a man like this chooses the MIDDLE of a critical Test Match where we have our backs against the wall and the team members need a strong Captain to provide support .......yet Biff gives up !!! Something wrong here surely.

  • Werner van der Merwe - 2014-03-04 10:58

    dankie tog die laaste van die ou kliek is weg.nou kan ons dalk n wéreld beker wen.

  • Frankysmashcake - 2014-03-04 11:25

    Should have jumped ship a year ago,your latest batting figures look like a baby's nappy in teething time

  • Sabiha Lockhat - 2014-03-04 11:28

    wow what an honour and privilege u had ,it is every young guys dream to captain the Proteas, its just sad the Sa fans didn't acknowledge your achievements but I am biggest your fan and I know you have always lead from the front , seeing your records and stats should be really proud

      Connie Ibbetson-kennedy - 2014-03-04 19:14

      I agree totally and I wish Graeme the very best for his future. I watch in the UK and today I was in tears at the amazing awesome tribute paid to Biff by Sky Sports Presenters He is not only the youngest Cricket Captain ever but 1 of the best opening Batsmen ever I cannot understand all these cynics and their catty remarks grow up and salute a legend in Cricket and that he is a South African should make you proud. Maybe it was not the time to bow out but his form was in question Cannot understand why these critics always crawl out from under their rocks when we lose a great in sport Celebrate recognise that we would never have been top of Test Cricket if he had not had the Captaincy and the guts he has always shown Yes he has made mistakes no one is perfect we all have flaws in our nature I salute you Graeme and thank you for what you have done for South African Cricket you will be sorely missed

  • Tbos Namba - 2014-03-04 11:53

    Wooooow thanks for going (Grame Smith) now South Africa is go to perform now without you....

  • Kamlan Moodley - 2014-03-04 13:01

    Thanks for the great leadership in taking our Test team to the top Smithy. We did not not win any cups but we do have a mace! You have your critics but I am glad to be part of the majority that supported you through thick and thin. Your grit and determination will be sorely missed. Good luck for the future.

  • Kusturi Bissondut - 2014-03-04 18:12

    Thank you Graeme Smith for the way you lead the side for so many years. We enjoyed your presence on the field and as a nation I think you did us proud. You always led from the front and fought hard whenever the team needed it. Your courage and determination always inspired the team and us as South Africans. We appreciate all you did for the team... and to hell with your critics...they certainly dont know you. Thank you Biff...good luck with your future endeavours

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