In an agreement that actually inspires very little confidence, Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Wednesday confirmed Graeme Smith as its first director of cricket … for just three months.
Officially, the former Proteas skipper can only commit to such a short stint because he’s already bound by a contract to commentate in next year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), but sceptics will argue the duration of the 38-year-old’s agreement suggests he’s not quite sold on the position and its autonomy yet.
It’s understood Smith presented CSA with a watertight list of demands and assurances, drafted by a personal lawyer, after he initially withdrew from the initial recruitment process due to it being “long and frustrating”.
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However, as corporate governance at the embattled federation continued to unravel – eventually leading to the suspension of CEO Thabang Moroe last week – CSA president Chris Nenzani pleaded with Smith to reconsider.
With Moroe, whose increasingly autocratic behaviour was a deterrent for Smith, out of the picture for now, an agreement could be reached.
“I’ve publicly stated a number of times that I would love to assist CSA in this difficult time, particularly in developing this new role of director of cricket. I’m still as passionate about South African cricket as I ever was and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the role,” said the imposing former left-hander, who led the Proteas to a record 53 Test victories.
“There is a lot of work to be done in the next few weeks and months and my objective will always be to make a positive impact during my tenure.”
While Smith’s role encompasses all of professional cricket’s structures, it seems unlikely he’ll be exerting much influence on the game’s feeder systems.
In all honesty though, the Proteas is the top priority currently anyway.
With the Test series against England just 15 days away, Smith needs to appoint a selection panel, confirm if Enoch Nkwe is actually still team director and formulate a blueprint for a better display at 2023’s World Cup.
“I’m delighted that Graeme has agreed to assist Cricket South Africa up until the IPL next year. Obviously, Graeme has had his concerns during the course of the last few months, but I am pleased to say that we have overcome those concerns and I look forward to working with him to urgently address pressing cricketing matters in particular,” said Jacques Faul, CSA’s acting chief.
“To have him on board to work with the professional cricket arm of CSA, as well as the cricketing pipeline, which is so vital for our game, is a massive shot in the arm for CSA during this period.”