South Africa news January 21, 2014

Smith takes up Irish citizenship


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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on January 23, 2014, 18:15 GMT

    @BobFleming A penny for your thoughts.

  • Mark 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.

  • LOUIS 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.)

  • steven 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.

  • Ross 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.

  • Stephen 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.

  • Tim 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...

  • greig 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.

  • greig on January 22, 2014, 13:55 GMT

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

  • Jason 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.

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