Graeme Smith is now the full-time director of cricket for Cricket South Africa (CSA) for the next two years and one of the first decisions he announced after his permanent capacity was confirmed on Friday is that Quinton de Kock will not be the Proteas Test captain.
Wicketkeeper De Kock is currently South Africa’s captain for ODIs and T20 Internationals, as well as being a key batsman across all three formats, but Smith’s announcement on Friday is good news for Faf du Plessis, the incumbent Test captain simply because there are few other realistic contenders who are certain of their place in the five-day team.
The Proteas are scheduled to play two Tests in the West Indies in July/August.
Smith, the Proteas’ record-breaking captain from 2003 to 2014, said there was the threat of burnout if De Kock was also made Test captain, as well as keeping wicket and being arguably their most important batsman.
The 27-year-old De Kock has made it clear that he does not want to give up the gloves.
“There’s no one person right now that we are looking at but I can tell you that the Test captain is not going to be Quinton. So it will be who escalates themselves as a consistent performer, who steps forward and has the respect of the team. Quinton is our white-ball captain but he won’t be doing the job in Test cricket as well.
“We want to keep Quinton fresh and playing well, and to be the captain in all three formats is very challenging. It probably won’t work. Just in terms of workload and mental capacity, being captain in all three formats probably isn’t going to be beneficial. We also have to consider the style of personality and player that Quinton is, and keep him as free and fresh as possible,” Smith said on Friday.
CSA acting chief executive Jacques Faul on Friday hailed Smith for the top-class leadership skills he has shown as the director of cricket in an interim capacity and announced that he had now received a two-year contract.
“It gives me great pleasure to contract Graeme permanently through to March 31, 2022 and I thank him for the willingness he showed to come on board and all the hard work he has done so far. I’m not sure anyone’s administrative career has started off with so many challenges, but he has looked at cricket administration in a different way in a very difficult time.
“We wanted to appoint him permanently from the word go in December, but there was a lot of uncertainty and we both wanted to see if the partnership worked. It has definitely worked well and Graeme’s leadership is vital to us, we’re extremely happy with his performance and he has also played a big role in this Covid-19 crisis,” Faul said.
Smith said he had agreed to become director of cricket on a full-time basis because he wanted to make a difference for the sport in South Africa and get the Proteas back to the top of the world game.
“I would be lying if I said there was 100% certainty when I took on the job because there was so much doubt on all fronts. But operationally I’ve now got to know the staff and there are a lot of hardworking people who are passionate about the game. I feel more invested now, I care about the national team and the business side more than I used to now as well.
“I want to get stuck in and make a difference. We need to make good, consistent decisions over a period of time when it comes to the Proteas and grow our pool of players. We need to maximise our strategies, although our financial position will play a role. The players feel a lot more settled now and we’re having good feedback and conversations with them,” Smith said.