Graeme Smith's Shock Retirement Ushers In New Era For South Africa
Cricketer GRAEME SMITH was seen "as a brash, arrogant and aloof South African," but "no one can dispute the impact" he had on the world stage as he became "the most successful captain in test history," according to Nick Said of REUTERS. Smith's decision to retire from int'l cricket just nine weeks after JACQUES KALLIS quit "will usher in a new era for South African cricket, which now finds itself shorn of experience and potentially in a leadership crisis." He has "been the face of South African cricket over the last decade and played a key role in taking the side to the number one position in the test rankings." While many South African cricket fans "have struggled to warm to him, few would argue that he deserves a place among the game's greats" as he has won a record 53 tests as captain, many of those "thanks to his own prowess with the bat" (REUTERS, 3/4). The AAP reported Smith "shocked teammates" and the "wider cricket community" with the announcement. Smith: "This has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life. I have a young family to consider, and I felt that retiring at Newlands would be the best way to end it because I have called this place home since I was 18 years old.’’ Test side vice-captain AB DE VILLIERS is "most obvious successor," although the leadership of national Twenty20 skipper FAF DU PLESSIS "is highly rated in the country." Cricket South Africa CEO HAROON LORGAT admitted Smith’s decision "came as a surprise." Lorgat: ‘‘We must respect him for deciding to call time'' (AAP, 3/4).