Graeme Smith: No excuses

2011-06-05 11:15
Graeme Smith (File)
Cape Town - Graeme Smith has apologised for not returning to South Africa following the Proteas' exit from the recent Cricket World Cup in India, but will continue as Test skipper.

Smith made the apology at a press conference on Sunday morning.

Smith, much to the anger of fans in South Africa, decided against returning home after the Proteas' quarter-final exit against New Zealand, and instead flew to Ireland to propose to his girlfriend, Morgan Deane.

Smith will marry Deane in August in Cape Town, before the Proteas take on Australia, starting in October.

Smith vowed to "work hard to get his form back in order to perform at his best" and has committed himself to the future of SA cricket and asked the fans for their support.

"With the benefit of hindsight, my decision to not return home directly after the World Cup should have been explained sooner," said Smith, reading from a prepared statement.

This was his first public appearance since the Proteas were skittled out of the World Cup by underdogs New Zealand who recorded a 49 run victory in the quarter-finals in Dhaka on March 25.

The team arrived home shortly after their shock defeat, minus their captain, as Smith, controversially, chose instead to go to Ireland to spend time with his pop singer girlfriend, now fiance, Morgan Deane.

While Cricket South Africa went to great lengths to say Smith had cleared the decision with them before the start of the tournament, it seemed an odd arrangement as the team were expected to reach the semi-final stage, if not the final, of the competition in what many people thought was South Africa's best chance of bringing home the trophy.

Apart from the home advantage the Indians and Sri Lankans enjoyed, no team stood out as favourites this time - unlike in the previous three tournaments that were dominated by the Australians.

"I know that my extended absence from South Africa has been the subject of much comment," said Smith.

"I apologise and make no excuses for it but I ask the South African fans to understand that I was feeling incredibly emotional at the time.

"What I did not take into account was the public's reaction to this decision."

Smith returned to India after his sojourn in Ireland for the Indian Premier League but sustained a knee injury in the second match of the tournament and was unable to work through it.

"Time is on my side to get fully fit," he said as the Proteas' next assignment is only in October against Australia, at home.

"Once the new coach is appointed, I will work to get back to my best physically, mentally and technically."

"I know the South African fans demand a lot from us and, as captain, I am held responsible. My captaincy means nothing unless I can back it up with my performance.

"I’m proud of what I've achieved as a player in the past and want to get back to that and I want to enjoy my cricket again."

Smith reiterated that he made what he considered the correct decision at the time when taking into account the disappointment and emotions he felt.

"I made the best decision at the time for where I was emotionally and in my personal life, but it's definitely understandable that the fans were disappointed."

Smith said there were exciting times ahead with a new coach being officially appointed on Monday, although the cat is already out of the bag in what is being termed "the worst kept secret in cricket".

Meanwhile, former Proteas' opener Gary Kirsten is expected to be named as the next Proteas coach following an Executive Council meeting of Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Monday.

Another former Proteas' great, Allan Donald, who turned down the chance to oversee New Zealand's bowlers, is expected to be named as one of Kirsten's assistants, alongside Warriors coach Russell Domingo.

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