Surrey swoop for Proteas captain
Surrey have pulled off a major coup by luring South Africa Test skipper Graeme Smith to the Kia Oval on a three-year contract.
The left-handed opening batsman has signed terms with the county to become club captain in a deal that will begin at the start of next summer. Gareth Batty had initially taken over the reins following Rory Hamilton-Brown's decision to step down.
Smith brings a wealth of experience, having averaged just shy of 50 in 102 Tests - 94 of which he has led the side in.
This summer represented a monumental one for the 31-year-old, who broke Allan Border’s record of captaining a team on the most occasions in Tests and also marked his 100th five-day appearance, at the Oval, with a century against England.
Having excelled on several visits to these shores in the past, Smith said: "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 CCC.
"When you consider the ambition shown it was an easy decision for myself and my family and I would like to thank Surrey County Cricket Club 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."
Surrey team director Chris Adams expressed understandable excitement, adding: "Signing Graeme Smith on a three-year deal is a massive coup for Surrey CCC.
"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."
Adams’ joy was echoed by club chairman Richard Thompson, who said: "I believe this a hugely important signing for Surrey. It demonstrates our ambition and commitment for the future.
"Wherever Graeme has played in the past he has left a superb leadership legacy and I have no doubt he will do the same at Surrey."
Smith was today freed from his Indian Premier League commitments when he was released by Pune Warriors. Next year’s IPL is due to run from April 3 to May 26.