Smith retirement 'surprising'

2014-03-04 09:00

Cape Town - Graeme Smith announced his sudden retirement from international cricket on Monday, ending the career of the most experienced Test captain and South African cricket's saviour.

GALLERY: Biff in pictures

Smith resurrected the team from the match-fixing scandal involving former skipper Hansie Cronje and a disastrous Cricket World Cup on home soil in 2003.

Smith, given control of the underperforming and fiercely criticised national team at 22, went on to play over 100 Tests, was captain for more than a decade and established South Africa as the No 1 Test team in the world, although he couldn't end the country's long wait for a World Cup title.

"This has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life," Smith said in a statement through Cricket South Africa.

He told team-mates after the third day of the ongoing third Test against Australia at his home ground Newlands in Cape Town that he was retiring after the match.

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

CSA said it was surprised by Smith's announcement but recognised him as "one of the true legends of the game." It follows the sudden announcement by all-rounder Jacques Kallis to quit Tests late last year.

"We must respect him for deciding to call time," CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat said of Smith. "Knowing him as well as I do, having been instrumental as a selector in appointing him as a young captain, he would not have taken this decision lightly or without a great deal of thought."

The 33-year-old Smith appears to be heading for a defeat against the Australians in his final Test, a result that would end the Proteas' five-year unbeaten run in Test series.

He will give up all internationals after his 117th Test, against the same opponents and on the same ground where he made his debut almost to the day, on March 8, 2002. He also played 197 one-day internationals, and scored over 9 000 Test runs and 6 989 ODI runs.

Wicketkeeper-batsman AB de Villiers, the one-day captain, will likely be the favourite to take over as Test skipper.

Smith's decision to quit just over two months after the long-serving Kallis announced his retirement on Christmas Day signals a "new era" in South African cricket, Lorgat said.

"I have been fortunate to have had many highs," Smith said, "amongst them leading and being part of the best Test team in the world. I will cherish these memories for the rest of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I bid my career a fond yet sad farewell."

A big, muscular left-handed opening batsman, Smith never was praised for being an elegant player, but he was gritty, single-minded and at times brutish - all qualities that endeared him to a South African sporting public that like their stars to be tough, above anything else.

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

His double-centuries in back-to-back Tests in England in 2003 and early in his career announced him as a player to be reckoned with, and he had a habit of making big scores when his team had its back to the wall, not least the 90 he hit to set up South Africa's world-record score of 438 to win an ODI against Australia in 2006.

"I would like us to remember Graeme for his nerves of steel and his match-winning performances," Lorgat said.

Smith has scored 27 Test hundreds and 38 half-centuries at an average of 48.72 with likely one innings to go.

Ahead of the series-deciding third Test, which Australia leads by 234 runs with two days to play, Smith talked of a "challenging two weeks" in relation to his personal life and with specific reference to his young daughter. He didn't elaborate.

"I definitely don't see myself playing until the age of Kallis or (Sachin) Tendulkar," he said. "But hopefully I'll know when the time is right."


  • Sabiha Lockhat - 2014-03-04 09:06

    Biff take a bow, the time is right though. You carried this team from nothing to number 1 over a bullish career. You reached the point where your heart cannot rule your head.

      Donald Dykman - 2014-03-04 09:16

      I don't agree, very good opening bat, but highly over rated as captain, remember how he deserted his team in the aftermath of last cricket world cup, and why not wait till after current test the announce retirement.

      Sulaiman Galant - 2014-03-04 09:34

      It is the wrong time to retire especially mid way through a series. For me it is a coward way out even though I know he has a young family and a R2.2 million contract with Surrey still not the way to go.**Deeply Disappointed**

      Michelle Vanstaaden - 2014-03-04 09:46

      Hmmm... I suspect there is some issues in the proteas camp, this would explain why both Kallis and Smith suddenly retired. Never liked Domingo, he will destroy (already is) the best Test team in the world.

      Foc Us - 2014-03-04 10:38

      Michelle do not try and create drama ... the only issue in the camp is that of age and getting to the end of very successful sporting careers.... they both made tons of money and why would you go through the stresses of travel and pressure away from your loved ones for longer than you have to ....

      Donald Dykman - 2014-03-04 11:26

      Meastro Xana, read carefully I said current test, not test series

  • Riana Caine - 2014-03-04 09:08

    Best Capt ever!!! His record speakes for itself.

  • Johnathan Mann - 2014-03-04 09:08

    He can always play in the Indian Premier League if he wants to. Warne retired and still played.

      Mac Naidoo - 2014-03-04 09:13

      Surprising? Shouldn't have been a difficult decision looking at your batting performances. Time to take a bow better than gettimg fired

  • Albertus Lombaard - 2014-03-04 09:10

    No suprise that CSA is surprised, they are to busy pleasing their Indian masters than to worry about SA cricket.

  • Albertus Lombaard - 2014-03-04 09:11

    Next cappie....Thami Solekile??? Don't be to surprised people

      Albertus Lombaard - 2014-03-04 09:28

      I am referring to the forced transformation agenda son, if you want to see nazis in SA look at the red beret wearing idiots

      Bongani Nsele - 2014-03-04 09:36

      Nazis are European bozo don't link African folk with that

      Foc Us - 2014-03-04 09:42

      @Richardson are you dof or what?? Albertus made a very legitimate comment about his opinion (I think he has it wrong but that's by the by...) WTF are you on about to call him a Nazi and wtf has racial support got to do with it??

      Albertus Lombaard - 2014-03-04 09:44

      You black dudes should not be so sensitive about transformation, it's one of CSA's main goals (with pleasing the Indians the other) and should be debated openly.

      Albertus Lombaard - 2014-03-04 09:46

      And Bongani, African folks' way of handling gay people's right smells like nazism to me son

      Hansie Crook - 2014-03-04 09:53

      Albertus Lombaard: How old are you?

      Albertus Lombaard - 2014-03-04 10:04


      Nhamo Dzenyika - 2014-03-04 10:58

      Lombaard hands off our red berets please. We love those guys like 'hell'

  • Dick Etheridge - 2014-03-04 09:11

    It's never wise for star's to ignore their 'sell by date.' Smiths' huge contribution to cricket will be remembered.

      Mac Naidoo - 2014-03-04 09:59

      A week or two back Biff said there will be no baggage in the side. True to his words. I salute him for that

  • Albertus Lombaard - 2014-03-04 09:14

    Mind you, if I marry such a nice Irish stukkie I would be difficult to concentrate on cricket....

  • BJ Pieman - 2014-03-04 09:17

    Now we might actually win the World Cup.

  • Louis Barnes - 2014-03-04 09:20

    Why do players announce retirement during a test series. What must this mean to the moral of the team. He is way past his best and it is time to go. He was however a very good player and captain.

  • Mesuli Jamaica - 2014-03-04 09:23

    'surprising' this man was playing like joke in these days if you forgotten watch him again in his last game and he no longer South African instead of giving back to our childrens he choose Ireland

      Albertus Lombaard - 2014-03-04 09:27

      Please refer back to how CSA treats former greats, Ray Jennings is a good example, then you will understand the situation a bit better son

  • Sello Moremi - 2014-03-04 09:26

    His retirement is long overdue

      Marni van Emmenis - 2014-03-04 10:20

      Go watch soccer, you clearly know nothing about cricket...

      Ian Calder - 2014-03-04 11:07

      Marni, because you clearly can't do any research yourself, how about I help you out here. 27,10,4,9,14,5 - those are Smith's last test scores. Averaging 11. Face it, because he has too - its time for him to hang up his kit.

      Ian Calder - 2014-03-04 15:34

      Lets add a 3 to that, to add to the polish!

      Marni van Emmenis - 2014-03-04 18:10

      Ian, you sound like the three Aussies that called for Ponting's head when he went through a bad spell. Was Graeme hitting a lot of mud, for sure. But his average is close to fifty at retirement. The first few tests that Hashim played, he had an average of 18... Unlike your attention span, records last.

  • Nawhal Majiet-Armien - 2014-03-04 09:27

    Graeme was a good Captain but an inconsistent batsman, wishing him well in all future endeavours though, he stood his coutry in good stead as a captain

      Foc Us - 2014-03-04 09:49

      I disagree, with an overall test average of very close to 50 he is in the top 5% in the WORLD!! Every batsman goes through cycles so expect ALL batsmen to go through peaks and valleys ...

      David McCallum - 2014-03-04 09:50

      how can he be inconsistent with an average of 48 plus .an inconsistent batsmen is someone who averages in the 30's and lower

      Marni van Emmenis - 2014-03-04 10:23

      Inconsistent? He has scored the second most hundreds by a Saffa and the most ever by a captain... He scored more double tons than any Saffa (including "hero" Kallis) and SA is yet to lose a test where he's scored a hundred (and we're currently number one in the world)... Inconsistent? I think not!

      Jon Low - 2014-03-04 10:53

      And he has barely managed to get into double figures in every one of the five innings batted against the "third-ranked" Australians... Add all five up and he hasn't managed to get to 50.

  • UNITY - 2014-03-04 09:34

    He did the honorable thing,on his own accord.He has given his best and worst at times.He was a good captain,and I am appreciative at the fact that his announcment will provide opportunities for players like young De Kock. We are at an era of cricket where performance will replace the word quotas!!!

      Albertus Lombaard - 2014-03-04 09:46

      Dream on

      UNITY - 2014-03-04 10:37

      Its evident in the U/19 wc ,coached by Ray Jennings.. Albertus ,u will be one of the few minority hard chomps leftover!!

  • Ralph Roman - 2014-03-04 09:41

    Wise move as he was just useless lately and most of his allies ( the broederbond of cricket) left the ring as well...

  • David McCallum - 2014-03-04 09:48

    all of you are happy with his retirement because of his so called lack of form .if that's what we go on then maybe we shouldn't have a national soccer team and all the players should retire today that are playing for bafana .they haven't performed since 1996

      Albertus Lombaard - 2014-03-04 09:54

      Careful, you will be branded as a nazi by some people around here.......

      David McCallum - 2014-03-04 09:59

      for some the truth hurts I suppose, so they bury there heads in the sand .our football people are the worst ,where's the quota's in bafana .sorry cant do that cause we mite start winning for a change and then it will prove where the intelligence and talent lies in this country

      Jon Low - 2014-03-04 10:55

      Great idea, David.

  • Tyron Rees - 2014-03-04 09:59

    Most over rated captain ever. The only reason he has "such a good record" is because of the players around him - 2 top ten test batsmen, 2 top ten test bowlers. Lets review some of the ROOKIE mistakes this series alone. Wins the toss in Centurion, Bowls, then bowls R Pieterson in the first session? Then have them 104/4...bring Pieterson on against Marsh, after bowling 5 maidens of pace, in a row, to arguably one the best players of spin in the Aussie line up - after he looked at sea against Mclaryn. Does not inspire his team to bowl quick to the Aussies in Centurion, handing the match on a platter to them. Fast forward to PE - where its the 3rd/4th over of the day, and you fall right into the trap Clarke sets for you by playing around your pad, instead of just seeing out the new ball. Then Cape Town - Morkel bowling at great pace to Clarke and having him on the ropes - who is bowling at the other end to release all the pressure? Pie chucker Elgar. Allowed Clarke to escape the barrage WAY too easy. Give me time and I can give you countless rookie mistakes a high school "captain" wouldn't make in each series we play. Fairly decent batsmen against meek n mild attacks, maybe a good leader but not a thinking Captain at all - all brawn no brains. He could learn from Clarke / Dhoni.

      Foc Us - 2014-03-04 10:04

      @Tyron you must have taken ages to type all this drivel ... the ONLY way to measure the success of ANY captain is his win/lose record and do yourself a favour and look at his record as a captain as well as a batsman .... then you re-write the drivel above with real facts

      Albertus Lombaard - 2014-03-04 10:05

      Tyron, best cricket comment off the year

      Albertus Lombaard - 2014-03-04 10:08

      Tyron, another rookie mistake, setting an attacking field to Warner, allowing him to smash quick runs, rather setting a defensive field to give him ones, thus frustrating him to go for big arial shots and getting caught.

  • Roland Lethem - 2014-03-04 10:00

    Smith you have made my day. You have done the honorable thing by standing down from the national team. This announcement could not have come at a better time as your form has been dismal of late. Thanks for making way for younger players as the team needs to rebuild . We have a enough talent available to fill the gap left by you and Kallis.

  • Alida Pope - 2014-03-04 10:01

    Take time to be with your family, also give someone else the chance to be captain

      Albertus Lombaard - 2014-03-04 10:06

      Another sensible cracker

  • Bastille French - 2014-03-04 10:01

    The boys must've played really bad to a point where the captain decides, you know what enough is enough. The captain has done great for south african cricket, we will miss him.

  • Lungelo Nyovane - 2014-03-04 10:16

    The best Proteas Captain ever...played the game very hard never gave an inch or asked for any...when on form he was just unstopable and would destroy any attack in the world. Those Double hundreds in England, Coming out to bat while injured and clearly in discomfort in a last wicket stand with Ntini in what was effectively a dead rubber Test Match in Australia, taking us to number 1 in the world and ofcoz that wonderful 438 game. Take a Bow Sir you're a LEGEND.

      Albertus Lombaard - 2014-03-04 10:27

      I remember that first double ton, that hooknose English cappie Nazar Hoesein still made a "whotshisname" remark before the test, only for Graham to cream his bowlers and ending the idiot's career

  • ravikesh.kalicharran - 2014-03-04 10:16

    Have a look at the international sites... Great tributes pouring in for Biff. Been on a few indian blogging sites...where the man is appreciated and sensible comments made unlike the crap spoken here

  • Larry Quins - 2014-03-04 10:19

    I would like peoples opinion..... Will AB take over captaicy and if so will he give up the gloves?? And who will open the batting?? De kock? Elgar???? My feeling is elgar and miller or stian van zyl to come into middle order? Views???

      Foc Us - 2014-03-04 10:24

      I think it's a given that AB will be captain ... my personal opinion is that he is not the best choice, he is immature and not tough enough .... he tries too hard to be popular. Captains have to be disciplinarian and tough on team mates. They sort of one foot in the team camp and one in management camp. You need a guy like Kepler Wessels or even a Hansie type character that leads from the front...

      Larry Quins - 2014-03-04 13:44

      I agree 100% but also the fact you need to put a new opener in elger or de kock to open?

  • Siphiwe Mbewe - 2014-03-04 10:26

    As much as we all appreciate the contribution, dedication and unforgettable moments you grace us with, it is cowardly to jump the ship whilst it's sinking. It could have been proper and benefiting to to have made the announcement in a different occasion but thanks for everything and goodluck in your future endeavours.

  • Ian Spear - 2014-03-04 10:43

    The fact that CSA are surprised by the Smitty's retirement is proof that they have taken no notice of commentary from SA fans. Smitty's retirement has been seen for a while now and commented on by fans. So sad that Smitty could not have stayed on for a while until the team settles going forward. We are going to miss him, huge blow to CSA cricket.

  • dirang.montsho - 2014-03-04 10:47

    looks like everyone thats captaining a side playing against Australia is going to resign or kicked out. These guys are ruthless.

  • Jonathan Given - 2014-03-04 11:12

    A Cook will be the happiest player because he waz going to retire in our next tour to England cous we all. Know wht Smith do to english skippers

  • Clarke Laverne - 2014-03-04 11:52

    Great news!!!

  • Wessel Badenhorst - 2014-03-04 11:53

    Eventually way overdue, but well done Biff you served us well time for a young leader to step forward

  • Richard Lemmer - 2014-03-04 13:40

    They all stay too long and so did he ..........

  • Mamphiswana Vission - 2014-03-05 07:49

    smith did his job let him retire

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