Smith will be expected to lead Surrey to victory in next year’s county season
South Africa captain Graeme Smith has agreed to sign a three-year deal with English county side Surrey in a move which will see him lead the squad effective immediately.
ESPNcricinfo first caught wind of the potential signing in September and reported that Smith did not want to give up his international commitments if he decided to sign with the county side.
South Africa’s schedule over the next couple of English summers will allow Smith to play for his country and Surrey as well since in 2013 the Proteas are scheduled to tour Sri Lanka, but just a few days ago both cricket boards agreed to postpone the Test series until mid-2015.
In 2014, South will tour Zimbabwe, while in 2015 they will head to Bangladesh, but both tours will only feature two Test matches, three ODIs and a one-off Twenty20 International.
Smith, who is currently in Australia for a three-Test series, has been brought in to lead the county side out of the pits of despair after the tragic death of Tom Maynard this summer.
Maynard’s death led to the departure of captain Rory Hamilton-Brown, while Surrey also lost veteran batsman Mark Ramprakash after he announced his retirement.
Surrey have also signed Vikram Solanki from Worcestershire and Gary Keedy from Lancashire in a bid to bolster their roster for the upcoming domestic season.
Surrey have been constantly experimenting with different opening batsmen, starting with Jacques Rudolph and Steve Davies and finishing off with Rory Burns and Zafar Ansari at the end of last season.
Having scored 8,314 Test runs at an average of 49.78 and 11,582 first-class runs at an average of 50.79, Smith will be expected to use his experience in international cricket to produce great performances as the new opening batsman of the county side.
Smith is also expected to join up with the club close to the beginning of the county season, which is set to begin on April 9, since South Africa’s home series against Pakistan concludes on March 24.
“I am excited to be joining such a professional and talented team, during what will hopefully prove to be a rewarding and successful period for Surrey. When you consider the ambition shown it was an easy decision for myself and my family and I would like to thank Surrey and Cricket South Africa for giving me the opportunity to lead the side and make it possible. I am excited about what we can achieve at Surrey going forward and would like to state very clearly that I will balance my new role alongside my continuing commitments to the Proteas and I look forward to continuing to represent my country for many years to come,” Smith said.
Surrey’s director of cricket Chris Adams was extremely pleased with the signing of Smith, and said: “Signing Graeme is a massive coup for Surrey. As well as being one of the best captains in the modern game, he is a phenomenal opening batsman and will lead by example from the top of the innings. By signing a three year deal, Graeme has demonstrated his commitment to Surrey on a long term basis and I look forward to working alongside him and the rest of our hugely talented squad to bring more silverware to this club in the near future.”
Smith last played county cricket in 2005, when he led Somerset to the Twenty20 Cup title after scoring 380 runs, and he also added 472 first-class runs to his name at an average of 67.42.