Johannesburg: Former Test captain Graeme Smith on Wednesday agreed to become Cricket South Africa’s director of cricket – but only in an acting capacity.
In a brief statement, CSA said it had reached an agreement with Smith for a three-month appointment until the start of the next season of the Indian Premier League, which is expected to start in March.
The announcement came 15 days before the first of four Test matches against England, starting in Centurion on December 26.
Smith’s appointment came against a background of crisis in South African cricket. Chief executive Thabang Moroe was suspended on charges of misconduct last week but the board, led by president Chris Nenzani, refused to heed widespread calls to resign.
The South African Cricketers’ Association, which represents the country’s professional players, on Monday repeated its call for the board to resign. SACA said it was prepared to deal with acting chief executive Jacques Faul – but not with any members of the board.
Although Smith’s exact role was not made clear in the statement, he will have to move quickly to appoint a selection panel and coaching staff ahead of the England series.
Smith, 38, captained South Africa in 108 Tests – a world record – between 2003 and his retirement in 2014. He also captained a World XI in a one-off Test against Australia in 2005/06. South Africa won 53 of the matches in which he was captain.
The CSA statement quoted Faul as being “delighted" that Smith had agreed terms.
“Obviously Graeme has had his concerns during the course of the last few months but I am pleased to say we have overcome those concerns and I look forward to working with him to urgently address pressing cricket matters."
Smith said: “I’ve publicly stated a number of times that I would love to assist CSA in this difficult time, particularly in developing this new role of director of cricket. I’m still as passionate about South African cricket as I ever was and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the role. There is a lot of work to be done in the next few weeks and months and my objective will always be to make a positive impact during my tenure."
Faul added: “Graeme is statistically the most successful Test captain in the history of the game. He is a natural leader and his knowledge of the game is second to none. To have him on board to work with the professional cricket arm of CSA, as well as the cricketing pipeline, which is so vital for our game, is a massive shot in the arm for CSA during this period."