South Africa news March 31, 2012

Botha to captain South Australia

Johan Botha will be released from his Cricket South Africa national contract after the ICC World Twenty20 in September to take up the captaincy of South Australia. The surprise move came after Botha impressed the powers that be in South Australia with his performance for the Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League in December and January.

He will replace the state's captain of the past two seasons, Michael Klinger, who had a strong season in all formats and captained South Australia to their first one-day title in 25 years. However, South Australia's awful Sheffield Shield form - the Redbacks didn't win a first-class match this summer and won only one the previous year - has prompted the state to look at ways the side can improve.

The Cricket South Africa acting CEO, Jacques Faul, said the board had decided to release Botha from his contract because the opportunity to lead an Australian domestic side was too good to pass up. However, he stressed that Botha was not retiring from international cricket and remained committed to the national side in the long-term.

"Johan has been an excellent servant of South African cricket for a lengthy period of time and we will never forget the manner in which he captained the Proteas to success in the absence of Graeme Smith in the away ODI series in Australia in 2009," Faul said. "He has fully committed himself to the Proteas for the next five months which includes the away series in Zimbabwe and England as well as the World Twenty20.

"He is at the moment our first choice spinner in the Twenty20 format. However, he has had an offer to captain South Australia over the next two seasons and this will provide valuable opportunities in broadening his experience in a leadership role. I must stress that Johan remains fully committed to South African cricket in the long run and he is by no means bringing down the curtain on his international career for the Proteas."

Botha said money was not a factor in his decision to sign with the Redbacks.

"I remain fully committed to the Proteas in the long term but I would hate to look back on my career at the end and regret that I did not take this opportunity," Botha said. "It is purely a cricket decision and there is no financial incentive in accepting it. If anything I will be earning less than I would as a contracted player."

Botha, 29, has not played first-class cricket in 15 months, although he has appeared in five Tests for South Africa. His presence at South Australia, combined with the availability of Nathan Lyon whenever his international commitments allow, will limit the opportunities for the state's young spinners, including Cullen Bailey and Cameron Williams.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here