JOHANNESBURG // Graeme Smith quit as the captain of South Africa's Twenty20 team with immediate effect yesterday, and said he will step down from the role in the one-day team after the 2011 World Cup but will remain as the Proteas' Test captain. The 29-year-old Smith read from a pre-prepared statement at a media briefing at a Johannesburg hotel near the Wanderers cricket ground.
"There are several reasons why I have made this important career decision," he said. "I am going into my ninth season of international cricket - eight as captain. It is my intention to play for another five or six years and I know in my heart that I can only do that if I give up some of my current responsibilities." He said he was making the decision now to ensure a "smooth transition". The left-handed opening batsman, appointed captain in 2003 at a remarkable 22 following a woeful World Cup campaign on home soil under Shaun Pollock, added he remained passionate about the South African captaincy and would continue to lead the Test team with pride.
"In the shorter term ... all our efforts are now focused on winning the elusive ICC World Cup in February 2011," Smith said. South Africa won 18 of their 27 Twenty20s under Smith. He has also led them to 79 one-day victories in 132 matches in charge, making him the country's most successful and longest-serving, post-apartheid one-day captain. Johan Botha, the spinner who has led the team in Smith's absence, and AB de Villiers, the batsman, are front-runners.
* Associated Press