Cricket South Africa's (CSA) director of cricket Graeme Smith believes there is a "very good chance" the T20 World Cup will go ahead early in 2021.

The event, which is scheduled to take place in Australia between October 18 and November 15 this year, remains in doubt due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Smith says the Proteas are preparing for all eventualities.

"If it does get postponed, we're looking at February or March next year," he told reporters on Thursday.

"We are consistently looking at strategies for tours, what the FTP [Future Tours Programme] looks like, what our focus is going to be over the next period of time.

"We'll have to assess players on form, as was always going to be the case. When that event comes around, we will look at what the best squad is that we could possibly send to give us an opportunity to win the trophy.

"I think the key at the moment, across the board from players to coaches and operational staff, is to try and make sure that we're ready for when the opportunity arises to play cricket again and then we'll have to assess players quickly.

"The hope was that we would have 14 T20 games before the World Cup in October and that's not going to happen anymore. There is a very good chance it's going to be shifted into the beginning of next year, so we'll have to consistently assess.

"There are so many things up in the air, so the key is just to be ready."

CSA CEO Jacques Faul believes delaying the tournament would not necessarily have a huge financial impact.

"The T20 World Cups gets sold and the money is essentially distributed to the members," he said. 

"I don't think a delay in the tournament would lead to a cut of that funding. As long as it takes place within the same financial year, then it should be fine. 

"If it doesn't take place or if it is delayed for a longer period, then it would have an impact."

Like many ardent fans of the gentleman’s game I confess to being blown away by the awesome ferocity and near unrivalled destructiveness of Matthew Hayden, however, his opening pairing with Sunil Gavaskar at the expense of the grittier but slightly more consistent Graeme Smith is a delivery just outside off stump.  

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is very little hairs to split between the two.  A look at the most obvious metrics shows Smith has scored 9265 runs at an average of 48.25 and has a top score of 277, with Hayden scoring 8625 at an average of 50.73 and a remarkable 380 as his high score.  In terms of 100s, Smith compiled a respectable 27 with 38 half-centuries, while Hayden has scored 30 hundreds and 29 fifties.   

As previously stated, its remarkably close, but let’s begin this discussion by pointing to an often-overlooked consideration, Smith made his mark, while also shouldering the responsibility of being a captain. After taking the role at the tender age of 22 years old, Smith was often tasked with leading from the front with his bat and rarely failed to do so, despite the additional responsibility. For a great many players, the task of both has led to either one thing or the other suffering.

Smith was never technically as gifted as Hayden, but what he lacked in ability, he certainly made up for in sheer determination and toughness.  No one should ever forget his brutal double ton against England in 2008 or the way he battled away in poor light to score 154, a total that led the Proteas to a first series victory in England since their reinstatement. Smith also led South Africa in a chase of 418 in Australia where he scored a memorably aggressive ton and was the first captain to beat Australia, in Australia, in 16 years.

His mental fortitude was such that he averaged more away from home than within the confines of his country. The batsman averaged a healthy 54.99 away from home as opposed to 41.52 in South Africa.  By contrast, Hayden averaged 57.89 at home and 42.69 on his travels.

In making the selection we should also consider the argument that can be made for Smith being a marginally more consistent scorer. In revisiting the stats, we can recall that Hayden has scored 30 centuries compared to Smith’s 27, and his highest total of 380, compiled against Zimbabwe, is second only to Brian Lara’s world record 400. Smith’s best of 277 came against England in 2003. 

A closer look at the numbers, however, makes for interesting reading. 

Smith has scored a double hundred on five occasions compared to Hayden’s two.  In terms of daddy hundreds (scores of above 140), it is again Smith who leads the statistics with 11 compared to Hayden’s five, which shows that he got to bigger totals more often.

 

Graeme Smith made his name with a tour of England in 2003. He made consecutive double hundreds and his 259 remains the highest score by a foreigner at Lord's. Smith finished the series with an aggregate of 714 runs at an average of 79.33, and ended up as the joint Man of the Series.

Smith's captaincy as well as his batting mirror his personality; strong, demonstrative and outwardly aggressive. As with all left-handers, he is strong off the pads and will punish the loose ones on the offside with equal felicity. Though he may not look as elegant as most lefties do, Smith is a relentless attacker and scores his runs quickly thereby giving his side the chance to bowl out most teams.

 

Career Statistics 

Full name: Graeme Craig Smith

Born: February 1, 1981, Johannesburg, Transvaal

Major teams: South Africa, Africa XI, Cape Cobras, Gauteng, Hampshire Cricket Board, ICC World XI, Pune Warriors, Rajasthan Royals, Somerset, Surrey, Western Province

Playing role: Opening batsman

Batting style: Left-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm offbreak

 

Test Career – South Africa (2002-2014)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs     HS     Ave      SR         100s 50s   

117    205    13        9265     277    48.25    59.67       27     38    

 

Career Highlights

  • Holds the world record of captaining in most number of Test matches. He is also the only player to captain in excess of 100 Test matches. (109 – 108 as captain for South Africa, and 1 for ICC).
  • Holds the world record of highest number of wins in Test matches as a captain with 53 wins.
  • Holds the most number of centuries (15) by a captain in Test match wins.
  • He also holds the world record of a non-wicketkeeper taking most catches (82) in Test match wins.
  • Fastest South African cricketer to reach 1000 Test runs.
  • Holds the record for scoring the most number of Test runs as captain (8659).

Graham Ford feels Graeme Smith's leadership qualities and intelligence make him the "ideal" man to bring success to South Africa.

Former captain Smith, 39, was appointed Cricket South Africa's (CSA) director of cricket on a permanent basis last month having initially filled the role on an interim basis.

He has already brought some familiar faces on board, with former international colleague Mark Boucher named head coach ahead of the home Test series against England and Jacques Kallis, another South Africa great, joining as a batting consultant.

Last November Smith actually withdrew from consideration for the role he later took due to a lack of "confidence" in the CSA hierarchy, though a restructuring changed his feelings, and ex-Proteas head coach Ford believes he will be a success, provided there is no meddling at boardroom level.

"I think that what he's shown as a player and leader over the years shows he's ideal for this job," Ford, now head coach of Ireland, told Stats Perform.

"He's incredibly driven, he wants to achieve, he's proud. He's been criticised maybe a little bit about some of the appointments he's made. But, from what I know of him, he's only making those appointments because he knows those are the guys that will get it done. It's his reputation at stake at the end of the day.

"You've got a high-quality guy, he knows cricket, he's got an amazing presence about him. Wherever he wants to impact on South Africa cricket, whether it be the women's game, the men's game, dressing rooms or whatever, he will be able to have an impact.

"The bloke is a hell of a cricket thinker as well. I've got no doubt they've got the right chap.

"As long as the rest of the support around him – the upward management – give him the freedom to make decisions, they're in a good space."

Ford was in charge of South Africa when Smith made his debut in 2001 as a 21-year-old against Australia, making 68 in his second innings against a vaunted bowling attack that featured Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Brett Lee.

The batsman went on to captain South Africa in 109 Tests, which remains an international cricket record.

"If I think back to his debut, [he was] a very young lad, 21 years of age, and he wasn't actually going to play and then Daryll Cullinan pulled out and Graeme sought as much information from the senior players and players around him as possible," Ford recalled.

"We were playing Australia, the mean machine at the time, and he made 60-odd. He took a lot of abuse and for a young lad like that to handle that situation was absolutely amazing.

"He went from strength to strength, he just got better after that. He showed great qualities early on."

Graeme Smith made an immediate impact as South Africa's director of cricket and his full-time appointment can help the Proteas build for a brighter future, according to Enoch Nkwe.

After initially taking over on an interim basis late last year, Cricket South Africa (CSA) confirmed in April the former captain will be remaining in the role for a two-year period.

The 39-year-old - who scored 9,265 Test runs and a further 6,989 in ODI cricket - appointed Mark Boucher as head coach ahead of the home Test series against England, while another ex-international in Jacques Kallis joined as a batting consultant.

Nkwe is part of the staff as an assistant coach and feels Smith has already made a difference in the job, aided by his standing within the game.

"From a cricketing perspective, to have someone of his stature, you can almost see the confidence in general from a cricketing space, especially from the team," he told Stats Perform.

"He is an ex-player and an ex-captain who has a very good cricketing brain.

"It all happened very quickly in a short period of time. He was only initially in the position for three months and there was so much he needed to do. Understanding of systems, then at the same time try and help the Proteas and give as much support as possible to try to win and build the confidence of the public, so he had quite a lot on his plate I must say.

"Looking at the circumstances, I think he's done well. He's well aware of the circumstances and there is still a lot he needs to put in place from a system point of view.

"There's no doubt that will happen in the next couple of months and years, to ensure the foundation is as strong as it's ever been."

South Africa have struggled in all forms of the game, including failing to progress beyond the group stage of the 2019 Cricket World Cup, but Nkwe is confident Smith can help bring some much-needed stability, both on and off the field.

He added: "The fact that now we know we are dealing with someone for the next two years at least, we are able to strategically plan certain things and he will be accountable for that. Also, it will give us confidence in us being able to execute our plans properly.

"There are just so many things around his full-time appointment that, as a team, we know where we are going, what we need to do, and I look forward to not only the next two, but the next three years, because I signed until the 2023 World Cup.

"Even just in our meetings, his energy is felt and he's someone who has always has that presence. That's something that is very, very exciting and something we needed in South African cricket."

Graeme Smith has been appointed as Cricket South Africa's (CSA) director of cricket on a permanent basis.

The former Proteas captain was given the role for three months back in December.

It had been expected CSA would look to extend his time in the job and he has now been handed an initial two-year contract.

"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," said CSA acting chief executive Dr. Jacques Faul.

"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.

"He has bought into all the overall pillars of our strategy and that includes the important one of transformation.

"As far as the technical and support teams he has put together are concerned, the black generic component amounted to more than 70 per cent across the board and the Black African component varied between 30 and 60 per cent for the Standard Bank Proteas for the home international season, for the Momentum Proteas for the ICC Women's T20 World Cup and for the ICC under-19 World Cup, which we were privileged and proud to host.

"He also made a number of strategic temporary appointments with Linda Zondi appointed interim independent national selector, Ashwell Prince taking charge of South Africa A and Malibongwe Maketa joining the under-19 squad as a coaching consultant."

Smith added: "My appointment brings a degree of permanency to my position which makes planning the road ahead a lot easier.

"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."

Smith scored 9,265 Test runs and 6,989 in ODI cricket in a decorated career as an opening batsman for his country.

South Africa's youngest skipper, he is the most successful captain in Test history, having led the Proteas to 53 wins in the longest format.

However, they are winless in their last three series, with home defeats to Sri Lanka and England sandwiched by a whitewash in India. They also failed to progress beyond the group stage of last year's World Cup.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) is not planning to implement pay cuts for Proteas players during the coronavirus pandemic, though future salaries could be affected.

The Proteas' tour of India in March was cut short due to the proliferation of COVID-19 and all forms of cricket in South Africa were cancelled for 60 days on March 16.

Australia's visit to face the women's team was called off, while trips for the men to Sri Lanka in June and the West Indies in July could be in jeopardy if the situation has not improved six weeks prior to the start of those respective tours.

However, CSA chief executive Jacques Faul does not anticipate the salaries of players to be impacted in the short term, though the pot for future payments may have to be reduced.

"For now we've budgeted for the amount. It's a centralised system so both the Proteas and the franchise players have been budgeted for and we have enough to see through the next season," said Faul during a conference call.

"The players will lose out on match fees and win bonuses. If these tours are rescheduled they'll get the money. In the long term even if we cover this season we have to look at what it's going to be post this season and the financial impact of that and how much will be available to contract players.

"We've got to crunch the numbers first and experience the total effect of COVID-19, but it is a possibility the players will be receiving less of a player payment pool.

"I cannot see anyone for now getting less money than they're contracted for, but in future the allocation going to players I can see that being less."

Graeme Smith signed a three-month contract as director of cricket in December and Faul stated clarity on the former captain's tenure will be provided next week.

"We're in final negotiations with Graeme there will be an announcement next week," he said.

"We're at an advanced stage of the negotiations and hopefully we can make an announcement next week."

Graeme Smith plans to have a "robust discussion" with Faf du Plessis on his future after the Test series against England.

Cricket South Africa on Tuesday announced Quinton de Kock had replaced Du Plessis as ODI captain ahead of the series against the world champions.

Du Plessis stated the fourth Test against England at the Wanderers, which starts on Friday, could be his last appearance in the longest format on home soil, revealing he may quit after facing West Indies in July and August.

The batsman had earlier outlined his desire to remain Proteas captain until the T20 World Cup in Australia in October, and Smith wants some clarity over Du Plessis' plans.

Interim South Africa director of cricket Smith said of the decision to appoint De Kock as ODI captain: "We see Faf playing a role as a player but from a leadership perspective, we felt the need to move on.

"Faf doesn't see himself being around in 2023. Leadership has been an issue of late in South African cricket and we have made the decision to give Quinny an opportunity.

"We feel tactically he is good, there are areas of his leadership that we all know we need to grow and develop but he is the right guy at this stage to take the one-day side forward."

The former Proteas skipper added: "With the World Cup around the corner, we need to go forward.

"At the moment Faf is in that position but I need to sit with him post this Test series. He has got a bit of time because he is being rested from the one-day series, so we will have some time to have a robust discussion on his future.

"He is the South African Test captain. The next Test match we play after this series will be in the Caribbean - there is an extensive amount of time. I need to understand how he sees his future in the game."

Graeme Smith is not looking beyond his initial three-month tenure as South Africa team director after appointing Mark Boucher as Proteas head coach.

Smith wasted no time in getting to work in his temporary role, unveiling Boucher on Saturday and naming Enoch Nkwe - who had been interim team director - as his former team-mate's assistant. 

Ex-South Africa captain Smith this week agreed to take his new role on a short-term basis due to Indian Premier League media commitments.

The 38-year-old says announcing a Test squad to face England rather than considering his long-term future was the priority.

"We will be announcing both the Proteas Test squad and the South Africa A squad to play England on Monday," Smith said.

"The Test squad will then go into immediate camp to prepare for the Test series and some of them will be included in the South Africa A team.

"Aiden Markram is likely to be the only player released for franchise duty in the four-day series as he is in need of match practice after his lengthy injury-enforced absence.

"As far as my vision for the future is concerned, we need to rewind to performance excellence and that will be the focus going forward. Our public want and demand a world-class Proteas side and we must deliver on that.

"As far as my own future is concerned, I face a very busy and at times hectic three months and I am not going to look further ahead than that. I am sure everybody will understand that.

"Because of the time frame the Proteas Test squad is my most immediate concern and we will be rolling out plans for the Proteas Women and the under-19s, who both face important ICC global events next year, in the immediate future."

It was also confirmed on Saturday that Linda Zondi resumes as convener of the national selection panel, while unsurprisingly Faf du Plessis remains Test captain ahead of a four-match series with England on home soil.
 
Meanwhile, ex-Proteas batsman Ashwell Prince will take charge of South Africa A for the upcoming tour match against England.

Former South Africa wicketkeeper Mark Boucher has been appointed as the head coach of the Proteas.

Boucher will be assisted by Enoch Nkwe, who stepped in as interim team director after the departure of Ottis Gibson following a disappointing Cricket World Cup campaign.

Titans head coach Boucher's appointment was confirmed on Saturday, just a few days after Graeme Smith was installed as Cricket South Africa's acting director of cricket.

Linda Zondi resumes as convener of the national selection panel, while unsurprisingly Faf du Plessis remains Test captain ahead of a four-match series with England on home soil.
 
Meanwhile, ex-Proteas batsman Ashwell Prince will take charge of South Africa A for the upcoming tour match against England.
 
Smith, who this week accepted the director of cricket role for an initial three-month period, believes his former team-mate Boucher's experience will be crucial for a young South Africa side.
 
"I have brought Boucher on board because I feel he will bring the toughness to turn a young and inexperienced Proteas squad into a battle-ready outfit. With his experience of a long career as an international cricketer he has first-hand experience of what it takes to succeed in the Test arena," commented Smith.
 
"I have the highest regard for Enoch as well and I want to create a clear path for him to grow into a top international coach.
 
"At the same time there is a clear need to maintain continuity and stability in the Proteas management team and we will be retaining the technical support staff along with Volvo Masubelele continuing as team manager and Justin Ontong as fielding coach.
 
"I will be appointing batting and bowling consultants, and these will be announced in the next couple of days."

The appointment of 43-year-old Boucher, who retired in 2012 due to an eye injury after playing 147 Tests and 295 one-dayers at international level, comes a week after Jacques Faul was named Cricket South Africa's acting chief executive, replacing the suspended Thabang Moroe.

Graeme Smith has been appointed as South Africa's interim director of cricket.

The former Proteas captain has agreed to take on the role for three months, after which he is due to commentate on the Indian Premier League.

Smith earlier this month denied having taken the job, citing "real concerns" over issues he had raised with Cricket South Africa (CSA), but confirmed he was in discussions with the governing body.

CSA on Wednesday confirmed former opening batman Smith has been instated on a temporary basis.

Smith's appointment comes soon after Jacques Faul took over as CSA acting chief executive following Thabang Moroe's suspension.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has confirmed they are close to appointing Graeme Smith as their new director of cricket.

The former Proteas captain – who scored over 9,000 runs in 117 Test appearances for his country – had previously released a statement on social media to dismiss speculation he would be taking the role, citing "real concerns", though discussions with the governing body were still ongoing.

At a press conference on Saturday, president Chris Nenzani announced CSA expects to finalise terms with Smith in the coming days.

The organisation has also moved quickly to fill the void created by the suspension of chief executive Thabang Moroe on Friday, with Jacques Faul taking over immediately on an interim basis.

Smith is set to be officially presented next Wednesday, less than three weeks before South Africa begin their four-Test series against England on home soil.

"I'm happy to announce that we have engaged Graeme Smith. I am confirming that he has agreed that by next week Wednesday all of the negotiations around the contract terms that need to take place would have been concluded," Nenzani told the media.

"We still have these three days left for engagement on the specific issues around the contract. He and CSA have both agreed that it is important that we conclude this by Tuesday so that on Wednesday we are able to announce to the public a certainty of how we go forward.

"If you have you have your director of cricket in place, then your selection processes are going to kick in, then your team preparation is going to kick in."

Faul steps in following the "precautionary" suspension of Moroe – who remains on full pay – due to allegations of misconduct.

Nenzani revealed they had held discussions with ex-Proteas international Dave Richardson, who previously held the position of chief executive officer for the International Cricket Council (ICC), over a temporary appointment.

While unable to assist on a full-time basis, Richardson will be available to provide support for Faul, who is CEO of the Titans franchise in domestic cricket.

"When I spoke to him [Faul], he did not even think for a moment, he said, 'I will come in and lend my support and put my shoulder on the wheel for the benefit of cricket in this country'," Nenzani said.

On talks with Richardson, he added: "His role will be to offer support and also to be available when required by the acting CEO.

"That to us ticks the box when we are having stability at that level of management. Up to this moment, we did not have a CEO and, in leadership, you should not allow a vacuum to occur."

Graeme Smith has withdrawn his interest in becoming Cricket South Africa's (CSA) first full-time director of cricket due to concerns over the existing structure.

It was reported last week that former Proteas captain Smith, who played 117 Tests, 197 ODIs and 33 Twenty20 internationals for his country, had interviewed for the position.

According to ESPNcricinfo, the 38-year-old faced competition for the role, which was created after the 2019 Cricket World Cup, from interim post-holder Corrie van Zyl and former national selector Hussein Manack.

However, Smith has pulled out of the running because he does not have confidence the role offers sufficient ability to implement change at CSA.

"Following the news in the media this week that I interviewed for the CSA director of cricket role, I feel it necessary to confirm that I have unfortunately withdrawn my interest for the role," Smith wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

"I would love to have taken on the role. However, despite my obvious desire to make a difference, during the long and, at times, frustrating process over the last 10 or so weeks of discussions, I have not developed the necessary confidence that I would be given the level of freedom and support to initiate the required changes.

"My passion for our nation's cricketing fortunes remains steadfast and I give my heartfelt best wishes to whomever does take the role on.

"I will continue to support the teams and give my advice and guidance whenever I can."

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