Chennai, India – South Africa captain Graeme Smith said today he hoped his decision to stand down from the one-day leadership after the World Cup would inspire his team’s quest for the trophy.
The 30-year-old was thrust into the captaincy of both Test and one-day teams in 2003 following a disastrous World Cup, where hosts South Africa exited before the second phase.
Smith, who has already stepped down as South Africa’s Twenty20 skipper but remains as Test captain, said he was “at peace” with his decision.
“It’s not affecting us at all,” the left-handed opening batsman said at the Chidambaram Stadium, where South Africa meet England in the World Cup tomorrow.
“Things have been very normal for us as a squad and providing more motivation if anything.
It was a personal decision and I’ve been in the job for eight years which is more than most other captains tend to last these days.
“From my perspective I’m very proud of what I’ve done and I wanted to give myself the best chance of a World Cup knowing I’ve given it my best shot with the team and the players,” added Smith, who was South Africa’s youngest captain when appointed aged just 22.
“I just want that opportunity to have it all out here and get on that aeroplane knowing I’ve done what I wanted to,” explained Smith, who in 2008/09 led South Africa to their first Test series win in Australia.
And as for rescinding his decision, he said: “I’m at peace with it now and I’m very focused on the World Cup – that’s my priority.”
South Africa have looked one of the form teams of the tournament thus far, with convincing wins over the West Indies and the Netherlands, while England struggled to beat the Dutch, tied with India and were then sensationally defeated by Ireland in one of the great World Cup upsets on Wednesday.
Asked if South Africa were a better all-round side than England, Smith replied: “We hope so but the key for us is to carry on playing as a unit.
We just have to come out tomorrow, be solid, consistent and perform our roles. Hopefully, we can be one step ahead of England.”
The England side is set to feature two players in batsmen Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen who both learned their cricket in South Africa, while captain Andrew Strauss and wicketkeeper Matt Prior were both born in the Republic.
Smith though played a straight bat when asked if he found it annoying that England had so many ’South Africans’ in their side.
“It’s probably the 50th time I’ve tried to find an answer to this question. It’s not a thing for us any more – that’s the reality.
These guys have been playing for England for a long time and we just have to get on with it.”