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Retiring Smith wants to help South Africa

March 5, 2014

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Retiring captain Graeme Smith said that he would like to help South Africa’s cricket board with the challenges facing the game in the country as he bowed out of internationals on Wednesday.

Smith’s 12-year career ended in defeat when Australia clinched a dramatic third test at Newlands to consign the 33-year-old to just his second series defeat in the last 26 in charge of South Africa.

The left-handed batsman carried the burden of leading South Africa for 11 years, during which there were issues over racial transformation and poor corporate governance in the game.

“There are certain challenges on the exterior that need to be met,” Smith said. “I would love to play a role in helping Cricket South Africa with those things.

“Who knows where that is going to be in the future, but I’ve feel that I’ve gained a lot of experience, worked with a lot of people and still have a lot to offer South African cricket.”

Cricket South Africa recently came through a bonus scandal in which chief executive Gerald Majola was sacked.

Smith, who announced his retirement late Monday, said that politics had not influenced his decision to walk away from the game at a relatively young age.

“It’s been on my mind before the series started, but I think the hard part was just to have the courage to make the decision,” he said. “It felt like the time was right for me.

“I wanted to do it before the test match started but with the stuff that was going on with my daughter being in and out of hospital, you kind of get distracted and put things off.”

Smith retired as the most capped test captain in the game, and with more than 9,000 runs from 117 tests at an average of 48. He also scored 6,989 runs in 197 one-day internationals.

“I think he’s going to get a lot of credit and a lot of recognition, but whatever he gets I think he deserves a lot more,” Australia captain Michael Clarke said. “He’s been a fantastic leader and a great player - one of the greats of the game.

“I guarantee you South African cricket will miss Graeme Smith. I think he’s a once-in-a-lifetime player.”

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