Smith stays put and Kirsten to coach SA

2011-06-04 18:57

Graeme Smith will not be stepping down as the Proteas Test captain, Cricket South Africa (CSA) said yesterday in response to media reports to the contrary.

Speculation was rife that Smith, who has not been back in the country since South Africa was pushed out of the ICC Cricket World Cup by New Zealand in March, would announce he was relinquishing his position at a press conference to be held in Sandton, Johannesburg this morning.

AB de Villiers has already been touted as the heir to the throne, but CSA spokesperson Michael Owen-Smith told City Press yesterday this was not true.

He confirmed that today’s conference will go ahead and Proteas team manager Mohammed Moosajee will be in attendance.

Smith, who came in for severe criticism for not travelling home to face the media in the wake of the Proteas’ ignominious departure from the World Cup, is expected to give his reasons for this.

“Graeme always said that he would give a press conference when he returned to South Africa and this is the first time he has been back since the World Cup,” said ­­Owen-Smith.

This will happen on the eve of the CSA ushering in a new era with the confirmation of Gary Kirsten as the new head coach of the Proteas tomorrow afternoon.

In some ways, his appointment was the worst kept secret in the sport for the last four weeks but, in fact, there remained significant doubts that CSA would get their man right up until Thursday when the former opening batsman finally signed the contract.

Owen-Smith did not confirm or deny Kirsten’s appointment saying there are still one or two processes which have to be completed before the appointment can be announced.

“The selection panel will present their recommendations to the CSA board, who will then approve them in Monday’s meeting,” said Owen-Smith.

Kirsten’s value soared to record levels when his three-year tenure in charge of the Indian national team culminated with the World Cup final victory against Sri Lanka in Mumbai on April 2.

But, despite relentless prompting from the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Kirsten declined the offer of a hugely lucrative contract extension citing his desire to spend more time with his family as his primary reason.

To some people, especially Indians, his decision now to return to international cricket just a few months later might appear hypocritical.

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