• Smith rules out comeback

    Former South African captain Graeme Smith says he is not planning a comeback to international cricket.

    In an exclusive interview with SACricketmag.com after a KFC Mini Cricket event at Newlands on Thursday, Smith talked about his experience in the Masters Champions League, his thoughts on the Proteas and the T20 World Cup.

    Smith (35), who retired in 2014, initially hinted that he could use his participation in the Masters Champions League as a catalyst to make a comeback, but it seems fans will have to accept that his international career is over.

    On his rumoured comeback
    ‘It’s not something that I really considered. It’s been largely driven from a media perspective. I think just being at the age that I retired, everyone expects that I could do it; I know I could, but I don’t think playing for South Africa is something that’s on the table.’

    On his experience at the MCL
    ‘It was good. Obviously it took a few games to get back into the swing of things. But by the end of the tournament I was enjoying it. It was a nice opportunity to get out and play some cricket again. I tweaked a groin after the second game and was struggling a little bit for the rest of the competition. In the semi-final I felt back to normal, the brain was actually working with the body again which was nice to experience.’

    On turning down the opportunity to become South Africa’s batting coach
    ‘I obviously have challenges on the personal front. I’ve got two young kids and for me it’s two-fold. Firstly, time away from home. At the moment, a batting consultant is something that I can’t really commit to. If I’m going to coach then I’m really going to commit fully and try and go for something more substantial, maybe a head coach role. But if it’s a consultancy and it’s only so many days in the year, then it’s different. But if it’s a full-time role as a batting consultant, it’s tough for me to get that right, especially with the business commitments that I have.’

    On coaching in the future
    ‘It’s something that I’m certainly starting to consider more. I had a good two years away from the game and the pressure of captaining South Africa for 11 years. I needed that break. Leadership and running an environment and being at the forefront of decision making is something that has been an integral part of my career, you know. So it’s certainly something that I will look at doing, whether it starts at the IPL or starts in a T20 league and builds into something else; we’ll just have to see what happens.’

    On the importance of the results in the next five T20 matches
    ‘Confidence is the key thing. If you’re losing and your losing badly, confidence takes a whack. If you’re winning and winning well, that’s important. They’ll obviously be looking at combinations. They’ll have very different teams playing here to those they’ll be playing in India. Maybe they won’t play the extra spinner here, maybe your part-time spinner can be more effective in India than it can be here. I think here it’s more about confidence and combinations and having people in form when they arrive in India.’

    On Kagiso Rabada going to English county Kent for four weeks
    ‘KG has had an incredible season. For him it’s just about growth. Obviously they need to manage him and manage his workload. But he’s a young man with a huge future ahead of him. For him, it will be an even bigger stepping stone in terms of having to live somewhere else, look after yourself, meet new people, try to fit into a new team environment and be successful as a player. When you arrive there as an international player, there’s a lot more pressure on you to perform.’

    On where AB de Villiers should bat in T20 cricket
    ‘It’s all about the combinations, really. I think he has to bat in the top three. You want someone like him having as many balls as possible [to face]. We all know how dangerous he can be and how fast he can score, so it’s just about finding that right tempo, giving himself enough balls to make an impact on the game.’