Surrey sign Smith as skipper

  • Last Updated: November 1 2012, 16:09 GMT

Graeme Smith has pledged to remain a South Africa player for "many years to come" despite agreeing a three-year deal to captain county side Surrey.

Graeme Smith: Will captain Surrey

In a major coup for the LV= County Championship Division One club Smith, currently in Australia as South Africa prepare to defend their number one Test status, will take the helm at the Kia Oval from next season.

The move has, however, thrown some doubt over the direction of the 102-Test opener's international future.

Smith has already lightened his Proteas commitments in recent times having resigned from the 50-over captaincy after last year's World Cup while he has not played a Twenty20 international in over than a year.

The 31-year-old has, however, previously stated he would not compromise his position as South Africa Test captain to take up any offer tabled and, in Thursday's Surrey statement, re-iterated that he would find a balance between his two roles.

"I am excited to be joining such a professional and talented team, during what will hopefully prove to be a rewarding and successful period for Surrey CCC," Smith said.

"When you consider the ambition shown it was an easy decision for myself and my family and I would like to thank Surrey County Cricket Club and Cricket South Africa for giving me the opportunity to lead the side and make it possible.

"I am excited about what we can achieve at Surrey going forward and would like to state very clearly that I will balance my new role alongside my continuing commitments to the Proteas and I look forward to continuing to represent my country for many years to come."

Smith would seemingly have scope to stay true to both positions with South Africa's fixtures list during the next three English summers reading fairly bare.

Only yesterday a Test tour of Sri Lanka was postponed, after a request from the home board, that would have seen him due to miss the end of the county season.

South Africa are then due to tour Zimbabwe and Bangladesh during the following two county seasons.

Smith's future in 50-over cricket could, however, be tested next summer when the Champions Trophy is due to be held in England during the middle of next year's county programme.

While the tournament looms as the first cross-over in duties it is scheduled to last just 17 days, meaning Surrey could likely accommodate Smith's loss.

In any case his arrival at the Kia Oval is likely to provide a major boost for Surrey, who had been searching for a new captain since Rory Hamilton-Brown stepped down from the role last season following the death of his team-mate and close friend Tom Maynard in June.

"We went and did the old classic names on a sheet of paper and right at the top was Graeme Smith's name," Surrey team director Chris Adams told Sky Sports News.

"If you were to pick out the very best person you could for that role; to give knowledge, direction and leadership on and off the field then look no further than Graeme Smith.

"There was discussion between him and Alec Stewart during the summer and that's led to Graeme agreeing a three-year deal today, which is absolutely superb news for the club."

Adams claimed that Smith's signature was an indication of Surrey's ambition after they finished just above the relegation places in their first season back in the top tier.

"It's not a short-term posting, we are a very ambitious club," he said.

"We've got what we believe is an outstanding team with a good blend of young players, emerging talent and experienced players as well. We feel as though we have a strong good side for next season and beyond.

"Our intentions are very clear and beyond that it is to compete for the Championship title first and foremost. That's our primary goal."

Smith was also freed from his Indian Premier League commitments after he was released by the Pune Warriors. Next year's IPL is due to run from April 3 to May 26.

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