Graeme Smith shocks South Africa by announcing retirement

South Africa 287 Australia 494-7d & 27-0

Paul Martin
Tuesday 04 March 2014 01:29
Comments
Graeme Smith celebrates a century for South Africa in 2010
Graeme Smith celebrates a century for South Africa in 2010

After a chastening day in the third Test when their official ranking as the world’s No 1 Test side came under severe threat from Australia, South Africa on Monday night received the hammer blow that Graeme Smith, the man who above all others had helped them reach such a status, would retire from international cricket at the end of the game.

As Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat later admitted, Smith’s decision – first told to the players after stumps in Cape Town – was something of a shock but also displayed the hard-headedness that has made him the most capped Test captain in history.

Smith said: “This has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life. It’s a decision that I have been considering since my ankle surgery in April last year.

“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.

“I have always been someone who has left everything out there on the field for my team and for my country.

“I’m extremely honoured and proud to have had the privilege to lead so many wonderful players and to have been a part of building the Proteas culture to what it is today. It is a culture that every player can be, and is, immensely proud of.”

The 33-year-old opener has played 347 matches for his country since making his debut in 2002 and scored 37 centuries, 27 in Tests and 10 in one-day-internationals. The current match against Australia is Smith’s 117th Test appearance, and he came into it having scored 9,257 Test runs at an average of 48.72. He has also played 197 ODIs, averaging almost 38, and 33 T20 Internationals.

Smith’s bombshell came at the end of a difficult day when South Africa were dismissed for 287, still 207 short of Australia’s first innings. Australia captain Michael Clarke chose to bat again rather than enforce the follow-on. In the remaining six overs his side moved swiftly on to 27 without loss, giving them a lead of 234 with two full days left.

The home side had begun their innings aggressively, and by lunch had sped to 122. But they had lost three crucial wickets, including Smith for five.

When South Africa resumed after tea on a paltry 200 for 6, the ball was reversing, and the home team was in deep trouble with Faf du Plessis still there on 42. He became fluent and aggressive until he overreached himself driving at Mitchell Johnson, who finished with 4 for 42, and was caught for 67.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in