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September 28, 2012
Graeme Smith, South Africa's Test captain, has said he will not consider international retirement after being offered a county deal from Surrey that could have required him to quit playing for his country.
Smith made his statement on Twitter after ESPNcricinfo revealed that he had been identified by Surrey to be the back bone of their rebuilding process. While not specifically confirming the offer, Smith hinted at it when he posted, "I am constantly approached about cricketing opportunities at home and abroad and always consider them." He followed it up with a message that said "I remain committed to the Proteas and my international career!"
Surrey have declined to comment on the deal but it is understood that they still see Smith as part of a long-term plan for them. It remains possible that Surrey will consider signing Smith as an overseas player, which would allow him to continue his international career. The retirement of Mark Ramprakash, the death of Tom Maynard and departure of Rory Hamilton-Brown have left Surrey short in the batting department. Although they have signed Vikram Solanki, their search for other reliable batsmen continues.
South Africa have a fairly light winter schedule in the coming years, which could allow Smith to play for Surrey in the English summer. Next year - 2013 - they are due to play Sri Lanka in July/August although the three-Test tour may be reduced to fewer matches.
The following two years are far quieter. South Africa tour Zimbabwe in 2014 and Bangladesh in the 2015 winter, tours which they have traditionally used for blooding talent and experimenting.
At 31, Smith has played international cricket for nine years and captained South Africa for eight. He has played 100 Tests, overseen South Africa's rise to the No. 1 ranking and holds the record for the most Tests as captain, having broken Allan Border's record at Lord's in August. Smith remains part of South Africa's one-day squad but was not considered for the World T20 squad.
Smith previously told ESPNCricinfo that he does not see himself remaining captain until the end of his international career. He stepped down as T20 captain in August 2010 and as one-day captain after the 2011 World Cup, when he also considered giving up the Test captaincy. Gary Kirsten persuaded Smith to stay on but he has admitted he would like to play as a batsman only in future.
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