Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith has admitted that Hashim Amla wouldn’t have been his first pick as the new Test skipper.
In a wide-ranging online interview with former Carte Blanche presenter Ruda Landman, Smith spoke of Amla’s distance from the other players in the dressing room as his main reason for not initially seeing him as a captaincy contender, but went on to back the new Test skipper. ‘I don’t think he would have been my first choice because he operates in a very removed way – he’s very calm, relaxed and slightly removed in the environment as he’s a very religious guy, ‘ Smith said.
‘I think it’s going to be interesting to see how he stands up now, being shoved, in a way, to the front,’ he added. ‘He has to make decisions for the team, attend all the meetings, all the press conferences, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he has the capacity for it.’
Smith also spoke of his admiration for Amla’s ability, and believes the early part of his tenure as Test captain will be an exciting time for the Proteas. ‘It’s going to be interesting to watch. I have so much respect for Hash as a person and a cricketer. He is an outstanding cricketer.’
The interview, which was posted on the Brightrock Insurance’s Change Exchange website, went on to cover the factors that led to Smith’s shock retirement in the middle of the third Test against Australia earlier this year.
‘The thought [of retiring] had been in my mind for a period of time. There had been things happening around that made me start to consider it – family, Gary Kirsten moving aside, Jacques Kallis retiring from the format, and on top of all that I had been playing for 12 years,’ Smith explained.
The square-jawed left-handed opening batsman then opened up about his daughter’s accident, and the stress and pain he went through during that period, while having to also deal with his cricket commitments. ‘My daughter got injured and it became a real thought. When I think about it, it was a really stressful time in my life. She was burned with hot water down her face, arm and leg.
‘When she got hurt, we were in the middle of a massive series against Australia. I was taking her to the hospital on the morning of the game, having the procedure and then having to leave to go and play the Test match,’ he revealed.
‘I’d walk in with her, she’d be gassed and put out, then I’d lay her down on the bed, walk out, wait for her to recover and then go to the ground to play against Australia. It was a very stressful time and probably played a big role in why I retired.’
As for the future, Smith stated that he would love to be involved in cricket, whether from a business point of view, or playing in T20 leagues around the world. ‘I miss my teammates, I miss that environment. There are offers to play in the Big Bash League in Australia and the local domestic competitions.
‘I’m attracted to anything that involves cricket. The things that interest me most may be the business of sport, maybe getting involved in aspects that are around the team, and around administration.’