Adams talks up Smith credentials
Team director Chris Adams believes Surrey have signed the finest captain of his generation in Graeme Smith.
The county announced a major coup yesterday when revealing South Africa skipper Smith - who holds the record for leading a side in the most Test matches - had penned a three-year contract.
The deal represents the latest move an active Surrey have made this autumn, having already signed Vikram Solanki and Gary Keedy.
In Smith, Surrey have seemingly found the perfect replacement for Rory Hamilton-Brown - who has opted to move back to Sussex - and Adams feels he represents the last piece in the jigsaw.
He enthused: “We have got one of the best captains of his time, certainly in international cricket and maybe one of the best of all-time. We’re delighted he’s signed on the dotted line.
“He has also handled some really difficult political issues during his time as South African captain and managed that as well as being a primary run-scorer in the side. That is what will define him in history as one of the all-time great captains.
“Having got to know this team really well now, I just know they will thrive under him; we have got some extremely hard-working players, young and old.
“Watching an experienced side come through with the obvious young talent under the leadership of Graeme is something I am very excited about.
“No player will command more respect that Graeme Smith. The key element has always been the appointment of not just a great leader, but one who would stamp down our intentions. They do not come any higher than Graeme Smith.”
Making such a headline signing is not an easy process, especially on a long-term deal.
Adams revealed: “It’s been a long and amazing process; I must congratulate Alec Stewart, who has done a sterling job with initial talks with Graeme, which started in the Headingley Test (against England on August 2).
“We - myself, the chairman (Richard Thompson) and Alec - then flew out to Ireland, where Graeme’s wife is from, to meet him and had a good, long conversation.
“We all came away from that with a lot of positivity; we knew going in to the talks Graeme was a remarkable person, captain, man and character. We came away with even more confirmation of that.”
“From the very first conversations, this was always about a long-term appointment. Graeme was very insistent that it’s what he wanted and it fits with our ambitions.”
While Surrey supports will rightly be delighted with the announcement, South Africa fans could be forgiven for wondering how it will affect the Proteas.
Adams moved to allay those concerns, insisting their talismanic leader - a veteran of 102 Tests - remains fully committed to South Africa.
When asked whether Smith would still be playing international cricket, Adams responded: “Absolutely.
“The moment we started discussions with him, we made it very clear that that was 100% how we saw it and we did not see him giving up any cricket for South Africa.
“How much he plays for South Africa is totally down to Graeme and Cricket South Africa. We’ve signed him on that knowledge and we will work around his commitments to South Africa.
“As things stand, we’re hopeful there will be 10 championship games (he can play in) next summer and obviously as the years go on, it will be up to Graeme.”
Adams, however, will rightly be worrying only about Surrey - for whom the LV= County Championship title remains the pinnacle.
He added: “We all want to win the County Championship as the number-one goal. I am certain that is high on Graeme’s agenda too.”