Smith named Ram Slam T20 tournament director
Graeme Smith, the former South Africa captain, has been named tournament director and brand ambassador for the Ram Slam T20 Challenge.
Smith retired from international cricket in March this year and announced in July that he will not complete his three-year deal with Surrey following knee surgery. He had hinted when he retired that he may not go into coaching but was interested in the business aspect of cricket.
Haroon Lorgat, the CSA chief executive, said that the board wanted to use Smith's experience to grow the tournament. Smith's responsibilities will include driving public and media awareness, assisting in recruiting foreign players to participate in the event, and overseeing the draft system and the allocation of foreign players to the franchises.
"When Graeme showed a desire to learn about the business of sport, it was clear to me that he would be the ideal person to direct and promote the tournament as we look to build on the success of last season," Lorgat said. "With an enviable playing career at international level as a leader, Graeme has much to offer the game of cricket. This is a perfect fit both for Graeme and for CSA."
"I am excited by this opportunity and looking forward to putting something back into the game," Smith said. "Players love playing in South Africa and our Ram Slam T20 competition has the potential to become a tournament of choice for international players from around the world."
The tournament has struggled to achieve the same profile as similar events around the world because of its timing - which has often clashed with when the South Africa players have been on international duty - and its inability to attract T20 superstars.
Both attempts at securing Chris Gayle's services for Dolphins have not worked out. Gayle was reportedly offered R1 million (US$100,000) to play for the franchise but had to pull out with injury in both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. Shahid Afridi could not make his trip for Knights last season for personal reasons.
There have been sprinklings of international interest with Saeed Ajmal playing for Titans last season, Sunil Narine turning out for Cobras and Sohail Tanvir and Dirk Nannes for Lions.
South African administrators have also been trying to inject interest in the tournament by introducing double-headers and kicked off last season's competition with a triple-header, which was poorly attended.
In the lead-up to the 2015 World Cup, Smith will also be involved in the 'Protea Fire' campaign to promote and support the South Africa team. A CSA release noted that Smith had played a central role in developing the 'Protea Fire' team ethic during his time as captain.
"The 'Protea Fire' ethos has become a valuable part of the team culture and identity in recent years," Smith said. "I would love to continue to play a role in promoting the values, tradition and spirit around which the campaign is based so that it becomes an enduring part of the South African sporting culture."