Graeme Smith appointed Director on two-year contract

Graeme Smith (Photo: Visionhaus/Getty Images)

In an unsurprising move, South Africa’s most successful test captain, Graeme Smith, has been handed a two-year contract as Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) Director of Cricket. 

The decision removes the moniker ‘interim’ from Smith’s title as CSA looks to continue rebuilding the Proteas with Smith steering the overall direction of the programme. 

If Smith brings half as much belligerence and nous to the role of Director of Cricket as he did when he took the Proteas to top of the world Test rankings as captain, South African cricket will be better for it. 

Smith will initially serve a two-year term until the end of March 2022, CSA said in its formal announcement on Friday. Given the CSA’s rocky financial situation, awarding Smith only two years initially is in line with the organisation’s belt-tightening measures. 

“Graeme has made a huge impact with his energy, expertise, hard work ethic and characteristic determination and passion he has brought to the position during the six months he has served in an acting capacity,” acting CSA Chief Executive Jacques Faul said in a statement.

“Although there is certainly a great deal of work to be done, as reflected by the performances of our various national teams, he has certainly put our cricket on an upward trajectory that provides light at the end of the tunnel.”

Smith took up the role on an interim basis in mid-December 2019, shortly after CSA’s suspension of Thabang Moroe as chief executive and the subsequent appointment of Faul as acting chief executive in the organisation. 

Following the announcement, Smith expressed his delight at being given the opportunity to stay on board as part of the team to take South African cricket forward. 

“My appointment brings a degree of permanency to my position which makes planning the road ahead a lot easier,” said the former Proteas captain. “As Dr Faul has said, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done, not just at international level but throughout our pipeline development pathways as well, but I am determined to get South African cricket back to where it belongs as one of the world leaders at international level.”

Speaking at a joint teleconference alongside Faul a few weeks ago, Smith had said he looked forward to being appointed on a permanent basis into his role, adding that he had a cricket coffin full of ideas about getting South African cricket to where it belongs.

“There’s been a huge amount of learning over the last few months. And I feel like I’m in a good place to look to implement some stuff. Maybe some debates and strategies going forward, especially now that we’re moving into a new financial year. We can look to improve some aspects, in particular the cricket side,” Smith said.

During that teleconference, Smith also spoke of helping the Proteas women’s team ride the wave of momentum from their spirited showing at the T20 Women’s World Cup earlier this year.    

“With the World Cup next year and the one that we’re hosting in 2022‚ there is going to be a bigger focus. I’ve started my player development conversations with the ladies across all levels. There’s a need to become professionals across all levels‚” the director of cricket had commented during the briefing.

Smith, who is statistically the most successful Test cricket captain in history, hopes to share some of his leadership skills and wisdom with the collective leadership group of the Proteas men’s team, including the likes of limited overs captain Quinton de Kock, coach Mark Boucher, assistant coach Enoch Nkwe and Proteas staff.

“No one is perfect and no one has all the skills. I think as an organisation if we keep assessing and looking at how we can grow and improve across the board, then I think we will have a better chance of being successful,” stated Smith.

Whether Smith is successful or not during his tenure, will be determined by how well the Proteas teams perform in ICC events – whether they bring home silverware or not. DM