Graeme Smith, South Africa’s captain and opening batsman, has announced his retirement from cricket effective at at the end of this current test match at Newlands against Australia.
He said of his decision:
“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,” Smith continued.
“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the support from my parents and brother, my wife and children, my friends, my sponsors, my fans and to Cricket South Africa. I thank and honour the players who I have played with and those who have supported me and helped me to be the person and captain I am today. I have been fortunate to have had many highs, amongst them leading and being part of the best Test team in the world. I will cherish these memories for the rest of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I bid my career a fond yet sad farewell,” the 33-year-old added.
Two memories of Smith’s career immediately spring to mind as a fan from Australia: the first showed his absolute devotion to the cause of South African cricket when he came out to bat with a broken hand in Sydney in 2006 and the second showed his utmost respect for the game when he organised an honour guard for the retiring Ricky Ponting at Perth in 2011.
He did not have the best or most attractive of techniques but when he got in he was very hard to get out and his record shows his penchant for big runs.
As a captain he played a massive part in bringing the Proteas to the top of world cricket, particularly in the test arena.
Just like Jacques Kallis in the series before this one, this is a sad farewell to a giant of the game and another hint at a time for regeneration in cricket in the Cape.
Thank you for the memories Mr Smith.
PostScript: Already I am reading smug comments from Australian fans to the effect that Australia and Mitchell Johnson have “caused” another retirement. Such comments are not unseemly but arrogant. Can we let this great player retire on his own terms without the hyperbole please?