South Africa news

Smith quits as Twenty20 captain

Firdose Moonda

August 18, 2010

Comments: 49 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Smith has stepped down as South Africa's Twenty20 captain with immediate effect and will give up the one-day leadership as well after the 2011 World Cup. He will stay on as Test captain and is available for selection in all three formats. Smith announced his decision at a press conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

"There are several reasons why I have made this important career decision," Smith said. "I am going into my ninth season of international cricket - eight of which have been as captain. It is my intention to play for another five or six years and I know in my heart that I can only do that if I give up some of my current responsibilities."

Longevity was one of the main things on Smith's mind during the South African off season, during which he, "set some challenging personal goals for the future." He would only share a few of those aims, one of which is to "be around for much longer as a player," and the other, to win a World Cup.

Smith led South Africa in the 2007 edition of the ODI World Cup and in three World Twenty20s. The team failed to reach the final of any of those events, although they reached the semi-final stage twice. Speculation was rife that he would step down in May this year, after South Africa finished bottom of their Super Eights group at the World T20 in the Caribbean.

The pressure of filling a barren trophy cabinet was expected to become too much and Smith fuelled the fire himself when he posted a cryptic message on Twitter on July 20. "Captaining South Africa is an honour and a privilege! And I'm so lucky to have had the opportunity. Thank you all for your support." He confirmed that the idea of stepping down was "going through my head for a while," but he did not isolate that tournament as the reason for this decision.

The team's Caribbean crusade was also the first full series Smith completed in 2010, after a string of arm and hand injuries forced him out of limited overs matches, such as during the India tour. He took no part in South Africa's ODIs in Australia in the 2008-09 season because of a broken hand and a tennis elbow condition kept him out of another ODI series in 2008, against England. Johan Botha captained the team on those occasions.

Despite being an absent captain in ODIs for much of the last two years, Smith dismissed the idea that the shuffling of the armband led to his decision. In fact, he felt his philosophies prevailed during those times. "My leadership style was to create an environment where the team could perform without me. There was never any problem when I returned. All the players were decent to me when I returned from injury and I just gelled back into captaincy."

Smith believes he created an ideal environment for other players to take on roles of responsibility. "It has always been my philosophy not only to make the Proteas [South Africa] the best team we can possibly be but also to enable the players to grow both as cricketers and as people. I believe we have now reached the stage where there are several players emerging within the squad to take on leadership roles."

It's for this reason that Smith chose to make his announcement now and not closer to the World Cup. He hopes it will give the administrators and players enough time to prepare for a new leader. "It is absolutely vital that we maintain continuity in a World Cup season and this major competition also concludes the current cycle of limited overs cricket. I also feel that making the announcement now will provide the time and development necessary to ensure a smooth transition."

Gerald Majola, CEO of Cricket South Africa (CSA), who was present at the press conference, felt Smith had given the administrators enough time. "He is leaving us when there are youngsters who can take up a leadership role, he is not leaving us in the lurch." Majola said CSA have been working on a succession plan for a while and they will announce the new Twenty20 captain next month.

The frontrunners for the job are Botha in the ODI role and AB de Villiers for T20s. Smith refused to comment on who he thought should take over but he did say that he would be willing to work with whoever was selected. Just like Shaun Pollock, who played under Smith after being stripped of the captaincy, Smith said he will play under a new captain without interfering. "I think it's very important to allow a person to find his feet and grow. I would like to add value because I think a senior player's role is a crucial one. I took over at a young age and Polly still played in the team and we were able to form a good relationship, so I learnt from a good man."

He has already demonstrated his ability to play under someone else. During the IPL, Smith played for the Rajasthan Royals under Shane Warne with much success. Smith's stepping down from the captaincy role in Twenty20s in unlikely to have an impact on, or be connected to, his appearance in the cash-rich league, but Smith left the door open for any possibility. "I don't know (about the IPL). We don't know what's going to happen with the IPL in future, but all I'll say is that I am committed to South Africa."

Firdose Moonda is a freelance writer based in Johannesburg

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Posted by shafi000 on (August 22, 2010, 11:49 GMT)

gud news now proteas can win next t20 world cup.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2010, 15:49 GMT)

smith is an wonderful captain and i rate him next to cronje. he'll be having no pressure on leading the team in the upcoming world cup and please smith and co give one final shot without fear at the world cup and the cup is ours. many have suggested devilliers to take the reigns from smith, he has taken over the gloves from boucher in t20 and odi's and he is an senior batsman and he plays at an very important position in odi's no4. if he should captain SA, he would crumble under enormous pressure which would ruin his career i suppose. best choices available are botha and parnell. parnell too young, so it maybe botha for 2 to 3 years from the world cup but parnell will surely be considered later if not now. now for other batsmen in the world who competes with smith, better be careful and smith will break each and every record which is possible. bowlers will have nightmares.....

Posted by   on (August 20, 2010, 8:59 GMT)

perhaps 1 of the finest captain in world cricket's going to retire from the shortest form of the game. At his starting time with the Proteas's i used to think why this young lad's appointed in such a post? eventually he's become 1 of my favourite guy in world cricket. I earnestly want him to grab the 2011 world cup trophy! However, may you have a faboulous time in test & ODIs.

Posted by Aussasinator on (August 20, 2010, 5:31 GMT)

@Davo47. I like to state facts with emphasis. There are people who like it and see the truth too.

Posted by insightfulcricketer on (August 20, 2010, 3:07 GMT)

For Indian cricket fans we have the utmost respect for Smith as a fantastic captain for his team. Many a game we have seen Smith either lead his team to victory from the front or even if the team loses he was always the last man going down or cajoling his players for that extra or exciting field positioning. The way South Africa has been able to fashion test victories in India the last two series is a testament to the captaincy skills of the man. For an intense man it seems five years at the helm was enough lest he burn out and the world miss Smith the fanstatic opening batsman. Cannot wish the World Cup to you as we need for Sachin seriously - but wish Graeme the best you are one of the finest.Salude!

Posted by David47 on (August 19, 2010, 20:57 GMT)

Yep - Smithy's a good captain, a good batsman and an allround good guy. I think it's the right move - it will prolong his career and will allow him to stay focussed on his batting. Not surprised that he still wants to captain in the pure form of the game though - it's your country's greatest honour in cricket. @Assasinator - you just can't help yourself can you??

Posted by Aussasinator on (August 19, 2010, 17:09 GMT)

It sounds like we are bidding him farewell, but he's going to remain as a player. But it speaks volumes of the man's ability and competence to read people say he'll be missed as a captain. With his exit, that leaves only Dhoni as a captain of merit in the same category as Smith. Viewers will miss the absolute character and poise of Graeme.

Posted by   on (August 19, 2010, 9:29 GMT)

Thanks for the good times Biff, may good batting continue for years to come.

I think Botha is a natural leader, I have watched him sincehe made his provincial debut - even he seemed to like to take charge. Otherwise Amla. I have seen precious few signs of de Villiers leading, and captaincy would get in the way of his self-professed aim to become the world's best batsman. Amla can make the team in all three disciplines, and he is also a natural leader.

Posted by   on (August 19, 2010, 7:24 GMT)

I'm looking forward to Biff leading the Proteas to victory and bringing the 2011 world cup trophy home. C'mon PROTEAS!!!! 100% South African, 100% behind the Proteas!!!

Posted by diri on (August 19, 2010, 7:20 GMT)

I have mixed feelings right now.The pressure of captaining a sport mad nation like south africa has finally taken its toll on Smith. He carried the burdon for 8 years but enough is enough. I will only ever think of Smith as a captain , when i see him on the field in the future in my mind he is my captain.....i have lived in the smith era To take over as a 22 year old and take SA to the top of the ODI and test tables is not an easy feat. What i will miss the most is his confidence as a captain at the toss. He might not have been the most skilled captain but he was a courages leader who always lead from the front and was willing to die for South africa

Posted by santhoshkudva on (August 19, 2010, 1:17 GMT)

hats off to Biff, for the team man that he is. Smith's commitment to SA was more than a hundred percent, and his decision substantiates that. though he might have given up the captaincy for personal reasons, the team's cause also plays a part in his decision making. cricket needs smith to go on as long as possible. let's face it, he is one of the few cricketers around who really value test cricket.

SA needs to be careful while choosing Biff's successor. AB de villiers might be the front runner for the job, but in the bargain SA might lose out on an exceptional player in the field. players who assume managerial roles on the field tend to curtail their responsibilities since their job entails this. ponting for instance. these days, he is more of a specialist catcher than a ground fieldsman. while there is no apparent dip in ability or performance, their new role simply does not allow them to be the fielders they once used to be.

Posted by swat1999 on (August 18, 2010, 23:32 GMT)

Very good decesion, Shaun should be next man

Posted by redneck on (August 18, 2010, 23:28 GMT)

best captain in the game currently in my opinion! the gamble csa took in making a 22 year old captain was the right call even if it hasnt resulted in trophies. he led his team with distinction last time in aus, the way he came out to bat in the sydney test with a busted hand speaks volumes about the man and his commitment to south african cricket

Posted by fanonfire on (August 18, 2010, 22:06 GMT)

i think pakistani senior players should learn from this

Posted by Godfather007 on (August 18, 2010, 21:35 GMT)

Fantastic leader!! AB should be the next T20 & ODI(after 2011 WC)skipper.

Posted by wondercloak on (August 18, 2010, 20:06 GMT)

Seems to be a lot of people saying 'goodbye' to him on here.....why? All he's done is step down from captaincy. The move should serve to focus his mind better in other areas, including his batting.

I agree that the captain has to take some ultimate blame for not achieving in such competitions but don't forget how he had the confidence as a captain to make decisions like give Wayne Parnell important overs in Parnell's first major competition last year in the 2009 T20 world cup.

Although I think AB seems like an obvious choice now...keep in mind that he is in the running to take over the gloves from Boucher. Making him captain as well would make him involved as a senior batsman, wicket keeper and captain. I would be hesitant to load too much onto such a blossoming cricketer. For me, Botha needs to take the reigns for now in T20's.....for the rest, let's just wait and see...

Posted by   on (August 18, 2010, 19:43 GMT)

Finally!! about damn time.

Posted by usman_nile1994 on (August 18, 2010, 19:30 GMT)

He was a great captain but he has made wise decision. From starting of his career he has to play under pressure with the enormous responsibility of captaincy and still he averaged 50 in tests. He could now play better with no responsibility and added pressure. I wouild not recommend AB Villiers (i don't think he could bear the pressure and he doesn't seem captaincy material) Instead i would recommend Botha or Amla for captaincy with Kallis as vice captain

Posted by Me_A_Gemini on (August 18, 2010, 18:27 GMT)

There is no doubt that he lead the team very well. No one can find a reason why SA fall apart when playing ICC tournaments but it is for sure that he has given his team a fighting spirit which surely help the new captain to lead this talented team. Good Luck Graeme!!

Posted by SVS_07 on (August 18, 2010, 18:26 GMT)

Johan Botha did impress whenever given the opportunity to lead. Hope he continues his good work

Posted by CiMP on (August 18, 2010, 18:24 GMT)

Graeme Smith has been a very good leader of late and has always been a prolific opener. His stepping down, like Mahela Jayawardene of Sri Lanka, is a good trend where senior players stay on as players and let new ones take up leadership roles. It is a good succession plan model. Will it work in the sub continent is not known (though Tendulkar and Dravid have proved it can in India.)

The flip side is Smith will be a scourge on all the bowlers now w/o captaincy care!

Posted by saltmine on (August 18, 2010, 18:22 GMT)

As a Captain, can only give Biff 5 or 6 out of 10. Granted he gave us some spectacular individual performances; but as a whole - he left the nation wanting more.

Posted by PradeepR on (August 18, 2010, 18:21 GMT)

Demonstrated the ability to play under someone else? And that someone else is Shane Warne? Shane Warne isn't someone else buddy. I think it is Smith's good fortune that he played under Shane Warne. Smith will demonstrate his ability to play under someone else when that someone else isn't as good a player as he is. Irrespective of what he says now Smith is a strong character and he will find it tough to play under someone who is not as talented as he is.

Posted by Me_A_Gemini on (August 18, 2010, 18:21 GMT)

There is no doubt that he lead the team very well. No one can find a reason why SA fall apart when playing ICC tournaments but it is for sure that he has given his team a fighting spirit which surely help the new captain to lead this talented team. Good Luck Graeme!!

Posted by saltmine on (August 18, 2010, 18:21 GMT)

As a Captain, can only give Biff 5 or 6 out of 10. Granted he gave us some spectacular individual performances; but as a whole - he left the nation wanting more.

Posted by   on (August 18, 2010, 18:06 GMT)

good comment by @SunAndSea .....there is no doubt that he is an excellent captain,but have never won any major limited overs tournament.....i wud say graeme's most defining moment came when he batted with a broken hand to save the match for SA in sydney and sydney crowd gave him a standing ovation...but i think since he has already given up captaincy there will be no pressure on him while leading the side in 2011 world cup....we hope SA break all the shackles and win the 2011 world cup...even though i am from india,,,,i am a die hard fan of SA cricket team.......all the best graeme for you to turn the tables in 2011 world cup

Posted by Arthaurian on (August 18, 2010, 16:56 GMT)

Thank-you Greame. Bye bye.

Posted by Aussasinator on (August 18, 2010, 16:18 GMT)

He should remain for the ODIs and give up T20s to start with. SA will find it tough initially.

Posted by funsuk on (August 18, 2010, 15:42 GMT)

I think it is very good decision for Smith to step as from T20 as a caption but I think he should retire from T20 as well. He is a good classy player should just concentrate on One day and Test games just like Tendulkar, Strauss and Ponting. I would say Kalis or A B De. would be the best fit for t20 captain.

Posted by Adhiqarie on (August 18, 2010, 15:35 GMT)

I think this is the right time for Smith to take this decision...!No doubt he is one of the best captains South Africa has produced yet. But the thing is we should always think about the future of the team and exactly this is what Smith has done ..!

Posted by Gupta.Ankur on (August 18, 2010, 13:08 GMT)

I don't know whether it will prove right for SA's future..................but i think Smith is their best candidate and i cannot see anyone as good as him............

Posted by   on (August 18, 2010, 12:34 GMT)

he will rememger for great fightining spirit from which he lead south africa and make sa force to reckon with in this decade.soth africa will struggle to find captain like him in yrs to come.

Posted by boris6491 on (August 18, 2010, 12:24 GMT)

I think SA could do with a change considering their average results in ICC limited overs tournaments over the past couple of years. That doesn't take anything away from, nor does it criticise the leadership skills of Graeme Smith who has to be admired for his efforts. He has been a good leader for SA since being elevated to the role at just 22 which is extremely uncommon. Yet he has shown good presence of mind as a leader and it cannot be forgotten that he has led SA to some fantastic results, not least of all the test series win in Australia. Undoubtedly, he still offers something in all forms as a batsman and hopefully this decision will rub off positively on his batting form. Although, as I said, the change is welcome for SA who can only hope that such a change in their leader can change their fortune in ICC limited overs events which, to be honest, is not reputable. I would endorse AB for the role considering what a pivotal player he has become and as he is still young.

Posted by IPL_is_Fixed on (August 18, 2010, 12:08 GMT)

8 years of Captaincy is not joke. He deserves permanent break from Captaincy. It is nice to see he wants to prolong is career. But if he wish to prolong is career in that Stupid, Idiotic, Betting Event IPL then it is huge shame and deplorable.

Posted by SunAndSea on (August 18, 2010, 11:53 GMT)

Good move by Biff, though I can't understand why he is still holding on to the OD captaincy. He should give it up now, so that a new captain can settle in. There's no question Biff is a good test captain. But under his leadership, the Proteas have never won a major limited overs tournament. What's worrying is the way they fall apart in the knockout stages (remember the Champions Trophy performance against England, and the loss to Pakistan in the World T20?). Biff seemed unable to get the best out of his players when it was most needed, so it's good that someone else should take the reigns.

Posted by multipack on (August 18, 2010, 11:31 GMT)

Thanks for the memories. R.I.P.

Posted by Dazzling_Devil on (August 18, 2010, 11:01 GMT)

Graeme Smith has been a great leader for South Africa, no doubt. But I feel Johan Botha definately deserves to be their next Limited over captain. Botha led South Africa to defeat AUSTRALIA in AUSTRALIA. And after that series Smith was back.... but South Africa failed to dominate in Limited Overs again! Definately Smith is a very good player, but imo he lacks some strategic skills. Ricky Ponting can make an Australian team of 10 debutants look Dangerous, and that is only due to his strategic skills. This is where Smith is behind imo!

Posted by mdwasifimam on (August 18, 2010, 10:59 GMT)

Yes it is great decision by S.african captain. Asian continents players should learn from him. Absolutely it is in favour of cricket.Now he can continue as a batsman so safrica may utilsie as a player and suggestion from former continue smith. New captain will be ready for captaincy under him. Great smith. u r great. hats off for u.

Posted by timelord24 on (August 18, 2010, 10:56 GMT)

i think this could be a potentially good decision from graeme smith. some fresh blood in the captaincy can only be a good thing for south africa

Posted by   on (August 18, 2010, 10:48 GMT)

why?? what's wrong?? Smith is one of the young cricketers who carried lot of responsibilities on his shoulders from starting of his career. He is one of the great leaders in the world of cricket. He shouldn't have done this. He should have ended his career as a leader. I don't think there is any problem with teams performance recently. Its going well and I can't find a proper guy who can replace him at the moment may be AB de villiers will be the right choice. But still Grame Smith will be the perfect leader for South Africa cricket team. I can watch him only as a captain but not as just player.

Posted by   on (August 18, 2010, 10:28 GMT)

gud that smith is resign in T20 cricket

Posted by   on (August 18, 2010, 9:39 GMT)

gud decision he never seems like a 20/20 player.......

Posted by   on (August 18, 2010, 9:29 GMT)

I think Dhoni should do the same. Concentrate on the Odi's and test and let Sehwag, raina or gambhir take over the T20 leadership.

Posted by nataraajds on (August 18, 2010, 9:29 GMT)

it's time to give Captancy to some one like AB De Villiers. he is consistant and lookfoward him to lead SA from the front

Posted by riskrao on (August 18, 2010, 9:27 GMT)

that was an good decision. but why would u want to give up odi captaincy. ok the debate is on who's going to captain SA in odi's and t20's. there will be an tough fight between botha and parnell. maybe botha for a couple of years and straightaway it has to be parnell. parnell showed that he is an good captain, in 2008 u19 world cup where SA finished as runners-up. coming to smith's point of view, he can now purely concentrate on his batting and if he starts to do that i'am sure he is getting ready to stamp his class and authority in all time batting lists. all the best for smith.........

Posted by   on (August 18, 2010, 9:18 GMT)

OH No Dnt Do Dis. He is Superb for all three Versions of the Game

Posted by   on (August 18, 2010, 9:18 GMT)

sad.... :( world and specially SA is gona mis a good leader.... a big time....

Posted by   on (August 18, 2010, 9:14 GMT)

Why now ? He could have done that after World cup 2011 .

Posted by brlara on (August 18, 2010, 9:11 GMT)

Well done Graeme Smith, An inspiring decision, If your decision is just for the reason to prolong your test career, well this is fantastic. 10 to 12 tests and a 2 months of IPL in a year will do a lot for you for the next atleast 7 years. Do well in 2011 world cup tournament and you guys deserve the World cup. Cheers,

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