Graeme pondered retirement for months

By Kirstin Buick
06 March 2014

South African captain Graeme Smith admitted he started considering retirement in July last year.

Smith said when former coach Gary Kirsten left the Proteas setup in July 2013, it started the ball rolling.

"It certainly was on my mind then, for me, when Gary left that was sort of when the process started," said Smith after he played his final match for his country against Australia, in the third Test in Cape Town, on Wednesday. "When he left as coach, that's when the thought entered my mind. It's been a period of time processing that. "With everyone around you telling you that you're 33 and you still have a lot to offer, I still feel like I could perform over the next period of time. But I have a real peace that this was the time for me to go."

'I have a real peace that this was the time for me to go'

South Africa lost to Australia in the final Test, handing the visitors a 2-1 series triumph.

Smith announced his retirement during the middle of the Test on Monday after the close of play on day three.

Graeme and wife Morgan. PHOTO: YOU archives. Graeme and wife Morgan. PHOTO: YOU archives.

Smith struggled in the series with just 45 runs in six innings, and said the decision to retire had weighed heavily on his mind.

"The way I felt now was that it was time to move on. I haven't had my best series," he said.

"I felt really good in the past two series. Knowing that the end was near made it difficult to find the right space to perform in.

"I certainly had no doubt that this was the time to finish."

Smith said it would have been a dream come true if the Proteas won a world cup during his time in charge.

"I think the natural thing would have been to win a world cup," he said.

"That would've been ticking all the boxes. That dream remains for me. I would love to see a South African team go on and win a world cup now. Once they do I think they'll win many."

Smith was also unable to taste victory over Australia in a series in South Africa, but insisted that it did not bother him too much.

"For me not beating Australia here is disappointing. But to have won twice away in Australia hurts Australians more. So I'll take that as a positive."

Australian captain Michael Clarke had no doubt Smith would go down as one of the greats of the game.

"I think Graeme is going to get a lot of recognition and credit, but he deserves more," said Clarke.

"He's been a fantastic leader, a great player, one of the greats of the game. The game is a sadder place with him retiring. He's only 33 years old, and in my opinion, I think he could've played a lot longer if he wanted to.

"You see the fight that South Africa showed today, that's credit to Graeme."

Smith made his Test debut against Australia almost 12 years ago at Newlands -- the same venue and against the same opposition as his final Test. He scored 9265 Test (average 48,25) and 6989 One Day International (average 37,98) runs.

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