South Africa news March 4, 2014

CSA not hurrying to name Smith's successor


Domingo looks to future without Smith

South Africa are in no rush to appoint a new Test captain following Graeme Smith's retirement from international cricket. With their next assignment in Sri Lanka in July, Cricket South Africa has more than three months to choose the successor, and indications are the board will take its time mulling over it.

"We're fortunate there's a T20 series to follow this and we've already got an established captain," Haroon Lorgat, CSA's chief executive, said. "The next Test series is in Sri Lanka in July. So there's a bit of time and something the selectors will have to deal with. I don't want to pre-empt anything at this stage."

Lorgat, who was convener of selectors when Smith was appointed captain, said he would be in favour of a process similar to the one that applied more than a decade ago. "My recollection of the process is that the board confirms the appointment of the captain. I would support that approach. It's a big appointment, it's the leader. I'm sure the selectors will look across the entire team and choose, or recommend, whom they believe to be the best leader."

Although Lorgat would not be drawn into speculation over who would take over, it is likely to be either AB de Villiers or Faf du Plessis. De Villiers is the current Test vice-captain and also leads in ODIs. Du Plessis is the T20 captain, but because of de Villiers' glovework in Tests, he has also been tipped for the Test role.

Whoever succeeds Smith, it will mark a changing of the guard for South African cricket. Smith has led the Test side since April 2003, and every member of this squad has known no other captain on a permanent basis. He has been the team's constant, something that would have been impossible to predict when he was appointed at the youthful age of 22.

"It was a decision that was a gamble," Lorgat said. "We knew that Graeme had the kind of attitude that leaders are made of. He didn't have the benefit of age or experience on his side. But when you looked him in the eye, when you spoke with him it was apparent this was a chap who could make it. Thankfully, all these years later we see a formidable record, personal and team wise. He's certainly proven us right."

Smith's long service to South African cricket meant that although his announcement came prematurely, it was not altogether unexpected for Lorgat. "We thought it would be sooner rather than later he would call time," he said. And even though news of Smith's retirement broke late (10.20 pm) on the third night of a Test in which South Africa are struggling, Lorgat excused the timing.

"I've got no qualms with that, it's the right thing to do," he said. "When you wake up one morning and realise it's the end of the road for you, you share that with the people around you. That's his team. Once it's shared with the team you might as well tell the public. We want to be open and transparent rather than it filtering through some unfortunate source."

The exact reasons for Smith's decision to step away from the international game are not known, and it was thought that after South Africa achieved the top-Test ranking, he may want to hang around until the 2015 World Cup. But Smith did not play in the most recent ODIs - three against India - and Lorgat indicated the chances of him traveling to the tournament were growing slimmer.

"If you think back to the rise of Quinton de Kock, and with Hashim Amla opening, Graeme must be realistic. I've heard him and [Jacques] Kallis a couple of nights ago openly stating that if they don't deserve on performance to be in the team they wouldn't want to be in the team," Lorgat said. "These are professional players, these are fantastic players. Graeme must have evaluated his own chances and to call time now rather than wait for the World Cup."

Smith has now played his last innings. He will be lauded for his contributions with the bat but remembered more for his mettle as a leader. He didn't do it the conventional way but the Smith way was more than good enough for Lorgat.

"Leaders are different. Some are upfront, some are quiet. Graeme is Graeme and his record speaks for itself," Lorgat said. "We should take pride in the way he has built this team and the legacy he leaves behind. A lot of the younger players that have come through have certainly drawn comfort from his presence. Sometimes lady luck smiles on people's careers. Saying goodbye at Newlands was an apt end to his formidable career."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on March 6, 2014, 11:44 GMT

    I am seeing so many people pushing for dean elgars case who I think would be the best choice to mould onto a captain as for amla he has repeatedly stated he would not like to be captain and noone wants to put a spanner in the works for AB so leave him as he is

  • Dru on March 5, 2014, 17:10 GMT

    The obvious choice is AB but I get the feeling SA is not convinced by AB and would make another "Smith" like appointment by going for Faf, who I think they like as a leader. When Smith was appointed we all went who but that solved that problem for 11 years so for SA this could be the way. Yes AB has a workload but he is not a child and I am sure is capable of leading and keeping. A larger concern would be the effect of keeping on his back and I would address that by keeping with De Cock and taking the gloves off AB and giving him the captaincy. It would be a real shame if we were to miss AB to prolong injury through keeping when SA have options. AB I reckon is capable of breaking most batting records if he plays the full length career. He is a rare breed of batter who one would pick for all three formats and there are not many of them around. He needs to be given the best chance as a batter, especially when SA have what looks likes the perfect wicket keeper batter one could wish for.

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2014, 16:41 GMT

    well played graemy and put forward sa cricket in world cricket map.luckily enough he had good team mates like pollard/knittinee.boucher/great allrounder kallis in his team.however choking attitude in the all important matches/tournaments took th esa team on the backfoot many times and could live upto their potential .

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2014, 16:08 GMT

    Faf is the best and right choice. That will graduate him to a new status from T20 captain... T20 not a big role for a captain. They can groom some one young.. AB to continue captaining ODI . That will make it thee captains for the three formats.. India should also move there soon if MSD cricket tenure needs to be extended. Too much burden on MSD now.

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2014, 12:55 GMT

    ABD is an automatic choice for the captain but should be relieved from wicket keeping, for which QTC is ready. Amla is not at all a leader, let him concentrate on batting only.

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2014, 12:45 GMT

    Quinton keeps wicket regardless of weather AB captains or not. Choices of captain are Amla, AB or Elgar. For my money i would go Elgar captain and Amla vice with AB batting at 4 and Quinton opening with Elgar. Drop Alviro.

    The politics could see some odd decisions made though so beware.

    Steyn, Morkel, Philander and Parnel(Over Abbot for me). JP and Elgar to spin.

  • Corne on March 5, 2014, 11:36 GMT


    "Smith overrated as player, as Captain & he overstayed." What? You need to tell us why in your infinite wisdom.

    "He destroyed the career of Gibbs" Enlighten us please?

    "He was also one of the reasons behind South Africans being chokers" So one man alone influenced poor performances by others?

    "Leadership wise he was very poor compared to Ponting" Based on what? Ponting had a top team most of his career, when they retired he failed.

    Your biased disapproval of Smith is clouding your judgement mate.

  • Francis on March 5, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    The person above citing facts obviously doesn't like Smith and lets that cloud his lack of thinking. Over 100 tests an opener and averaging 48. That's not overrated. I can think of, top of my head Greenidge, Haynes who played over 100 tests with lower averages. Also, Taylor & Langer. In fact, only Hayden averaged slightly more (there may be other openers with 100 tests - but I've made my point). Cronje destroyed Gibbs - along with self-inflicted damage. As for choking. Cast your mind back to SA's first test vs WI in '92. Chasing 201 they were 3/122 at one stage. Didn't get to 150. Smith was a fine player and deserves a pat on the back not unfounded criticism.

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2014, 9:58 GMT

    1). Smith was always overrated as player, as Captain & he overstayed.

    2). He destroyed the career of big match player: Gibbs.

    3). He was also one of the reasons behind South Africans being chokers as he & Amla always choked in big games with pathetic averages in WCs & tournament finals.

    3). Leadership wise he was very poor compared to Ponting, as Ponting won 2 WCs out of 3 with no losses in 2 of them Smith's team never made it to semis despite SA being always at par with AUS in terms of batting, bowling & fielding capacity & had very balanced side.

    4). Same is the case in tests as Ponting's win rate was 60% whereas of Smith, meager 45%.

    5).Contrary to Ponting Smith lacked the killer instincts & he would even squander sure win opportunities like he did in 1st test vs Ind

    LOOK PEOPLE, Facts don't lie. If your perception is that he was a great leader, correct your perspective. Unfortunately this generation of people have tendency to praise mediocrity & take greatness for granted

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2014, 8:57 GMT

    I think SA should try Amla. Because i think naming ABD as captain will increase his burden. He's already a main batsman, test wicketkeeper and ODI skipper. SA should try AMLA...

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