South Africa news

Smith takes up Irish citizenship

George Dobell

January 21, 2014

Comments: 44 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Smith at his Surrey unveiling, The Oval, April 12, 2013
Graeme Smith began a three-year contract with Surrey in 2013 © Getty Images
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Graeme Smith, captain of the South Africa Test team, has been granted Irish citizenship.

Smith, 32, married the Irish singer Morgan Deane in August 2011, and the pair have been in Dublin in recent days to tie up the details. Deane posted a photo on Instagram of Smith with his certificate. Smith has not had to relinquish his South African citizenship.

While the development will have no immediate implications for Surrey, the county with whom Smith has a long-term relationship, it would mean that, should he retire from international cricket, he would be eligible to play for them without counting as an overseas player.

Smith has previously insisted that he is keen to continue to represent South Africa until at least the 2015 World Cup, although he is not guaranteed to be included, having not passed 30 in his last eight ODIs. At some stage, it is thought he is likely to step back from the international game and concentrate upon Surrey.

Having signed a three-year contract to captain the London county in late 2012, Smith's first season at Surrey was curtailed by injury. He only played in three Championship matches, as Surrey were relegated from Division One.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (January 23, 2014, 18:15 GMT)

@BobFleming A penny for your thoughts.

Posted by Marktc on (January 23, 2014, 10:13 GMT)

I agree, this is a retirement decision and not a cricket one. He is thinking as a family man and wanting to give his a better life. Would be great if he did some coaching with the Irish team once he has called it a cricket player day.

Posted by BobFleming on (January 23, 2014, 8:59 GMT)

He's clearly desperate to play for England... An Irish-South African opening bat & captain... The ECB's dream player! (Knowing how these forums work, I'm going to pause and point out the size of the shovel I'm using to spread the irony.)

Posted by lankymanky on (January 23, 2014, 6:15 GMT)

Surely being South African and having obviously played enough games, he would have qualified as a kolpak player anyway, once he had given up on international cricket and then still would not have been an "overseas player" for example see Ashwell Prince at Lancs who was the overseas signing but since retiring from the international game is just a kolpak. Therefore I agree with the other opinion on here that he is thinking about his retirement with his wife and they have decided to live in Ireland.

Posted by Nuxxy on (January 22, 2014, 21:04 GMT)

To be frank this probably has nothing to do with cricket. It might help help Surrey but it more than likely has to do with Smith wanting to raise his kids in Ireland. Safer than South Africa, and better education system. And in doing so he would be joining a whole host of other saffas, albeit ones with a lower public profile.

Posted by Stevros3 on (January 22, 2014, 15:04 GMT)

@YorkshirePuddding I'm not sure we have the balance right, but it certainly helps players develop if there are world class players around them. How out of their depths did som of the England batsmen look with the pace of Mitchell Johnson. Exposure to players of the highest level is important to the young English players.

The biggest issue I have with overseas players is in club cricket below where overseas paid proffesionals are often pushing out promising youngsters from their chance, meaning unless the England/County youth programs pick up on them early enough they can become lost to the system.

Once into the county team though you need to ensure the quality is as described 'first class' and with so many teams at theat level (more than the 'closed' first class systems) there is plenty of space for youngsters AND some top quality overseas players.

Posted by DeckChairand6pack on (January 22, 2014, 14:39 GMT)

Shrewd move Biff! Naturally this makes you a more attractive proposition to employers and you can squeeze out a bit more on your next contract. But I must agree with previous posters, there is little evidence to support the assertion that overseas players help the local game. Then again he won't be an overseas player...

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (January 22, 2014, 14:00 GMT)

@Yorkshire Pudd I totally agree. Statements that overseas players boost County cricket by developing English players is utter tosh. Just look at the English Premiership (football) vs England national football team. For every foreign player playing, a local player loses the opportunity to get exposure to the highest level.

In SA we have a few foreign players but they only make up maybe 5% of total players. You have to be in it to win it. You have to have your local players playing in the highest domestic level possible. Foreign players are there for money - not to help out.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (January 22, 2014, 13:55 GMT)

Great news for Surrey who now have 1 free overseas player.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (January 22, 2014, 13:09 GMT)

@jb633, sorry dont kid yourself, its a popular myth that overseas players 'help' the english game. Look at the top nations over the last 20-30 years, Aus, India, and South Africa, they have a closed FC system where overseas players are not generally allowed to play or dont get regular games.

For every overseas player in the england county system its one less place for an english born and qualified player to have a chance. The FC system should be limited to English born and qualified players. by all means allow oversaes player to play in local leagues/minor counties (equivalent of Aus Grade cricket) but thats it.

Posted by OCMills on (January 22, 2014, 11:56 GMT)

As I understand it, he would not be eligible to play for Ireland until 4 years after his last international match with SA. By that time, he will be nearly 40 (if not past it). I sincerely hope that Ireland isn't relying on a man of his age for an opening bat, no matter what a career he had.

Posted by jb633 on (January 22, 2014, 10:29 GMT)

This is great news for cricket in England, and hopefully Ireland. County cricket must do all it can to attract guys like Smith. He will teach the young guys such a lot and will hopefully instill an attitude that will remain with the youngsters forever more.

Posted by WarVdm on (January 22, 2014, 9:06 GMT)

So Smith takes up Irish citizenship (perhaps to make room for an extra non EU player at Surrey) so therefore he is going to retire from international cricket after the 2015 CWC (or before if he doesn't make the team). Not retire from ODI's, mind you, but INTERNATIONAL cricket all together..... Can the "journalist" be more sensationalist and speculative? Smith turns 33 this year, which means that he should still have another 4 years of Test cricket in him. SA Test team has some big challenges in 2015 and 2016 (Sri Lanka and India tours, England tour to SA; Smith has never won any of these 3 tours), Smith is captaining the best team in the world and is in good form in Tests, why on earth would he want to retire in a year? Cheap and unprofessional shots from the "journalist" (once again...) in a childish intent to destabilize the SA team.

Posted by wanatawu on (January 22, 2014, 9:03 GMT)

@Yorkshirepudding SA don't really care about players that go play for other countries, as long as they don't criticize their country of origin, ala Rathbone and the early Pietersen. It's hard to breakthrough in SA for some I don't think Trott would have made the SA side.

Posted by Marktc on (January 22, 2014, 8:49 GMT)

He could play for both SA and Ireland in the 2015 WC, that would be a novel idea.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (January 22, 2014, 7:56 GMT)

@Lion_96, SA did not lose Strauss and Prior as they both left SA when still young, its not as if the SA system would have influenced either of them, Strauss initially started to learn cricket in Australia, Prior was about 11 when he came to the uk so would have developed under the UK system. trott is debatable as he left SA in order to earn a living playing professional cricket which at the time was difficult to do, and Sa had more than enough chances to 'claim' him.

In regards to the others that you mention (I suspect Dernbach) is amongst them he didnt start seriously playing the game until reaching england, I believe his prefered sport was Rugby Union, and the others all came to the UK as children or to earn a living with no guarantee of playing International cricket for ENG.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (January 22, 2014, 7:50 GMT)

So surrey will be able to employ an overseas player as a non-overseas player, thus keeping an overseas player slot free, and thus cicrumvent the rules put in place that where designed to develop home grown talent. The ECB need to penalise Surrey if this happens, preferably withdrawing International games from surrey and giving them to other test grounds, this will hit them in the pocket a lot more and send a message to other counties that take on the idea.

Posted by   on (January 22, 2014, 7:01 GMT)

He can keep both citizenships and keep on playing for RSA..not a big deal

Posted by Romanticstud on (January 22, 2014, 5:45 GMT)

Maybe Smith can lead Ireland from 2015 ... and win the 2019 world cup with Ireland ... Smith don't join England ...

Posted by Lion_96 on (January 22, 2014, 5:20 GMT)

Its amazing how SAF can still find enough talent in their own system to be the best, despite losing several players (KP, Trott, Prior & Strauss to name a few) to ENG.

Posted by muzika_tchaikovskogo on (January 22, 2014, 5:04 GMT)

I hope Smith is able to contribute significantly to Irish cricket, which is at the crossroads right now.

Posted by crikkfan on (January 22, 2014, 4:35 GMT)

@Jeet Paricha LOL ! nice post ..

Posted by   on (January 22, 2014, 4:05 GMT)

whooo whooo!! what a prospect for England to regain the Urn. With current one day form, chances of Smith getting kicked in the ass out of the ODI team for OZ/NZ are high.

So the most logical career path seems SA Bench --> Surrey --> Irish National Team --> England ODI --> England Test --> Replace COOK --> Play Ashes --> Regain The URN. Looking forward to Cook and Smithy to open the innings at LORDS against Slingy Mitchy. mouth watering!!

Posted by monisri on (January 22, 2014, 2:22 GMT)

Well, GS is already playing for Irish in a different playing field, but the tunes and music are from Irish :) After retirement, he shall help the Irish cricket in many ways.. those guys deserve to go up in the ladder..they won lots of hearts from subcontinent last time in the World Cup.

Posted by   on (January 21, 2014, 23:09 GMT)

I think the best he could do is choose to play for Ireland one day team while captaining the South African test team. Anyway, one day the laws will be more relaxed and therefore why we can 't start that with Smithy.

Posted by   on (January 21, 2014, 23:03 GMT)

What a sham and embarrassment that this can happen!

Posted by   on (January 21, 2014, 22:53 GMT)

@Albert_cambell Yes the average team is current World Champions. And they have 2 ICC WC, 1 T20 WC, 2 CT and 3 Junior World Cups. How many do South Africa have?

Posted by Greatest_Game on (January 21, 2014, 22:49 GMT)

I guess this is another tack in the ECB/BCCI/CA troika from hell campaign to sideline SA: buy out it's players as you bankrupt cricket in SA. Ah well, if you can't beat them on the field, stab them in the back in the boardroom.

Posted by asiacricket1234 on (January 21, 2014, 22:46 GMT)

There is a good chance ECB will try to replace cook with Smith :P

Posted by   on (January 21, 2014, 22:00 GMT)

@Albert_cambell the ICC don't set how many game are played just who tours who, the FTP is only a guide. National board decide how many of each form of the game to play.

I don't see Smith ever playing for the Irish National side, He has had a full international career. Having Irish citizenship allows him to play for Surrey without filling an overseas player slot.

Posted by   on (January 21, 2014, 21:42 GMT)

Its pretty clear that his place in the SA squad will be a question mark so its logical for him to go this way in his career

Posted by 2929paul on (January 21, 2014, 21:16 GMT)

Excellent. Another Irishman we can nick to play for England.

Posted by lebigfella on (January 21, 2014, 21:01 GMT)

Yah Graeme... good to see you covering all options. Please get Surrey back up to the quality side they really should be... good luck for 2014

Posted by LukeshNaidoo on (January 21, 2014, 20:50 GMT)

I wonder if this allows him to potentially play for Ireland when he retires from SA cricket. When he's 38+ he probably will be thinking of bringing his SA career to an end but he could provide a wealth of experience for Ireland

Posted by palla.avinash on (January 21, 2014, 20:32 GMT)

Now smith should plays tests for south Africa and odis and T20s for Ireland that would be amazing haha.

Posted by   on (January 21, 2014, 20:27 GMT)

if he could help ireland cricket that will be great for them

Posted by bijusportsfan on (January 21, 2014, 20:22 GMT)

@ Cambell, it is funny that an average side like India is currently the holder of the last two world events, the champions trophy and world cup. They are also incidentally the no: 1 ranked side in ODI's.Before you jump the bandwagon, champion's trophy was played in England. I am not talking about recent series in SA which obviously SA has won in their backyard. Some people have such meiopic views.

Posted by   on (January 21, 2014, 20:18 GMT)

He couldn't play for Ireland without a period of several years between his last match for SA and his first for Ireland, unless he got special dispensation from the ICC. I think he's planning on staying in Ireland once his career's over, not bailing on SA.

Posted by   on (January 21, 2014, 19:23 GMT)

Hopefully Smith plays for Ireland..and leads them out of league stages would be a great achievement for the Irish team. with the support of O'Brien brothers and the experience of Smith..the Irish team would be a force to reckon with..

Posted by Nuxxy on (January 21, 2014, 19:19 GMT)

I said not long after they got married that he should try bring a seasoned voice behind Irish Cricket after he retires. Looks like he might be headed that way anyway.

Posted by   on (January 21, 2014, 17:56 GMT)

Now the English have another reason to fear Smithy!! Go Biffy!!!

Posted by   on (January 21, 2014, 17:49 GMT)

Is Smith planning to play for Ireland?

Posted by Sachit1979 on (January 21, 2014, 17:26 GMT)

Does it mean that he could represent Ireland in next world cup?

Posted by Albert_cambell on (January 21, 2014, 17:25 GMT)

I cant see smith getting a place in our ODI team. De kock already cemented his place. I think Smith should retire from ODIs. But he should continue playing tests. We are building a nice ODI team for next years world cup with the likes of AB,Amla, De kock, Duminy, Miller..etc But the sad part is we dont have many to play in this year. Pathetic from ICC. They will give 30-40 ODis to average teams like India. but give only few ODIs to top sides like SA.

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