Former South African captain Graeme Smith has withdrawn his interest in becoming Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) director of cricket. In a statement issued on his Twitter feed on Thursday, Smith said he was not confident that he would have been given the freedom to do the job on his own terms. Smith confirmed that he had been interviewed by CSA for a position which would effectively have put him in charge of the national team, who have endured a miserable set of results since losing a home Test series against Sri Lanka in February.
“I would love to have taken on the role,” the 38-year-old Smith said.
“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.”
Smith’s indication of the timeline of negotiations may explain why the key positions of national team director and director of cricket have not been filled only six weeks before the first of four home Tests against England. The team director will report to the director of cricket, who will in turn report to chief executive Thabang Moroe.
The relatively inexperienced Enoch Nkwe was appointed interim team director for a tour of India in which South Africa lost all three Tests by wide margins last month. The interim director of cricket, former international Corrie van Zyl, was recently suspended along with two other officials in a controversy over money owed to players for last year’s Super League T20 competition.
Media reports indicate, however, that Van Zyl remains a contender for the full-time position. Smith concluded his statement by saying his passion for South Africa’s cricketing fortunes remained steadfast. “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.”
News that Smith was in line for the director role gave rise to hope that he might have been able to transform South African cricket as Rassie Erasmus did with the country’s rugby Springboks, who recently won the Rugby World Cup.
Erasmus appeared to have been the freedom to run the team without political or administrative interference. Smith scored 9,265 runs in 117 Test matches, hitting 27 hundreds.