Proteas' skipper admits it was not easy calling time on his international career
>> Captained South Africa in 110 Tests
>> Became their youngest skipper
>> Says injuries had been taking their toll
Cape Town: South Africa captain Graeme Smith described it as the toughest decision of his life to bring the curtain down on his international career after almost 350 appearances for his country.
Smith made the shock announcement on Monday night that he would be retiring from the international arena at the conclusion of the ongoing third Test against Australia.
South African captain Graeme Smith leaves the pitch for the last time after getting out for three on Day 4 of the third Test against Australia at Newlands yesterday. PIC/AFP
The 33-year-old told team-mates following the third day’s play in Cape Town and tributes soon started pouring in for the left-hander, who has been described as “a legend”, “a warrior” and “all round good egg” by some of those in the game.
The announcement may have taken many by surprise, but Smith said he had been mulling it over for almost a year.
He also said it was far from easy opting to call time on an international career that has spanned 347 matches in the three formats since he made his debut in 2002, during which time he has scored 37 centuries — 27 in Tests and 10 in one-day-internationals.
He 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.”
Major hole to fill
Smith will leave South Africa with a major hole to fill having been a key fixture in their line-up for well over a decade.
This, his last Test, is his 117th, of which he has been captain for 110 — a world record. He came into the match having scored 9,257 Test runs at an average of 48.72, while he has also played 197 ODIs, averaging almost 38, and 33 T20 Internationals.
Smith, who has also taken 26 wickets for South Africa with his off-breaks, continued: “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.”
Whether Smith leaves international cricket on the back of a series defeat remains to be seen.
Graeme Smith’s final Test innings ended in failure as South Africa headed for a series defeat against Australia in Cape Town yesterday. Smith made just three runs before falling to Mitchell Johnson for the fourth time in the
Warner hit his second ton of the match yesterday. PIC/AFP
His side were struggling at 71-4 in pursuit of a massive 511, after David Warner followed his first-innings 135 with 145 in the second as Australia piled up 303 for five in 58 overs before declaring. — PA Sport