Graeme Smith Retires as World’s Longest-Serving Cricket Captain

Graeme Smith, South Africa’s Test cricket captain, will retire from the international form of the game after a record 109 matches in charge of the world’s No. 1 ranked team.

Smith, 33, told his teammates yesterday that the current match against Australia in Cape Town will be his last, Cricket South Africa said in a statement on its website. The batsman became South Africa’s youngest captain at the age of 22 and has led the team in the five-day Test format for 11 years.

“It’s a decision that I have been considering since my ankle surgery in April last year,” Smith said in the statement. “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,” he said, referring to Cape Town’s international cricket stadium.

South Africa became the world’s top-ranked Test team during Smith’s tenure and reached the World Cup semi-final in 2007. His 9,262 runs in the longer format of the game is the 12th most in history and second highest for a South African, according to Cricinfo.com. He averages 48.49 runs per innings and has hit 27 centuries.

Smith’s decision came as “a surprise” to Cricket South Africa, the game’s governing body in the country, Chief Executive Officer Haroon Lorgat said in the statement.

“I would like us to remember Graeme for his nerves of steel and his match-winning performances that were synonymous with some of the most remarkable fourth-innings victory chases of all time,” he said.

Smith’s retirement follows that of South Africa’s leading Test run scorer Jacques Kallis, 38, who quit the longer form of the game last year following a series of matches against India. Kallis will still play in one-day games.

South Africa are tied 1-1 with Australia in their current series, in which Smith has scored 42 runs in five innings. He will probably have one more knock in the Cape Town match, which Australia have dominated for the first three days.

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