How Smith resurfaced as new T20 League chief: 'His global standing, relationships with players'

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Graeme Smith during a virtual media briefing. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
Graeme Smith during a virtual media briefing. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
  • CSA chairperson Lawson Naidoo explained how former director of cricket Graeme Smith resurfaced as their new T20 League commissioner.
  • The former Proteas captain's "global standing" and CSA's need to attract the best players to the tournament won through.
  • Smith opted not to reapply for his previous post but was cleared of racism allegations by an independent arbitration panel.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) board chairperson Lawson Naidoo explained why and how former director of cricket Graeme Smith resurfaced as their new T20 League's commissioner after leaving his last post on sticky terms.

CSA is the majority shareholder of a new entity called Africa Cricket Development which owns the six-team global T20 League that Smith will head, set to begin in January.

Naidoo said the Africa Cricket Development board chose the former Proteas captain because of his "global standing" and their need to attract the best players to the tournament, with whom Smith maintained a good relationship.

READ | Smith backed to successfully ignite T20 competition despite prior CSA skirmishes: 'They've moved on'

"His contract came to an end and he opted not to reapply and he obviously wanted to explore other opportunities and this was one of those that clearly arose for him," Naidoo told Sport24.

"The decision to appoint Graeme as the commissioner for this T20 league was taken by the Africa Cricket Development board.

"CSA was obviously consulted on the matter, as we would be as the majority shareholder on any major decision that the company takes. Ultimately, they felt Graeme was the right person for the position.

"His global standing, his relationship with current players is important because we need to be able to attract the best international talent to come to SA."

Smith left CSA on uncertain terms when his contract expired after facing racism allegations that weren't proven at an independent arbitration hearing led by advocates Ngwako Maenetje and Michael Bishop.

But this has not hampered his prospects in the game and he has not held the past acrimony against his former employers.

Smith was instrumental in getting the national teams back on the field in trying Covid times, with tours getting cancelled and bubbles wreaking havoc with the game's calendar and players' mental health.

Enoch Nkwe was recently appointed Smith's successor in the director of cricket role.

Meanwhile, the Proteas men's players, whom Naidoo met to discuss the T20 League before their UK tour, are said to be excited about the prospect of the new competition.

"It's been received with great excitement," said Naidoo.

"SACA (player's association) welcomed the initiative. It obviously provides more playing opportunities for all domestic players.

"I was with the Proteas (men's team) a couple of weeks ago just before they left for England and they are very excited about this initiative.

"It does put South African cricket on the global map. It gives them an opportunity to play in this tournament and against the best in the world."

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