Timing of Smith retirement is odd

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iol spt mar4 Biff Gallo Images First it was Jacques Kallis and just three months later it is the turn of Test captain Graeme Smith to hang up his cricket boots. Picture: Shaun Roy / Gallo Images

Cape Town – First it was Jacques Kallis and just three months later it is the turn of Test captain Graeme Smith to hang up his cricket boots for the Proteas.

After playing 166 Tests, Kallis retired from the Test format at the age of 38, but said he intended to continue playing the 50-over game, hoping for a spot in the One-Day International (ODI) side for the 2015 ICC World Cup.

Smith, meanwhile, made it clear he was retiring from all forms of international cricket on Monday.

Smith broke the news to his team-mates after close of play during the third Test against Australia at Newlands.

He said it was something he had been considering since his ankle surgery in April last year and had a young family to consider.

Interestingly, his retirement comes exactly a week after Cricket SA announced the Proteas fixtures leading up to the World Cup.

The next Test match for South Africa is scheduled in December against the West Indies. After a nine-month gap, it will be the first of a three Test series.

Smith had been effectively dropped from the one-day side in December during a three match ODI series against India. Though part of the squad, Quinton de Kock was chosen ahead of him for the first ODI on December 5.

The 20-year-old scored 135 off 121 balls and led the Proteas to a 141 run win over India, seemingly closing the door on Smith.

After the game, CSA said in a statement that Smith had returned to Cape Town to focus on his Test match preparations for the upcoming two-match series against India, which started on December 18.

Opening the batting, the left-handed De Kock went on to score two more centuries making him only the fifth player to hit a hat-trick of hundreds in ODIs after Pakistan's Zaheer Abbas and Saeed Anwar and South Africa's Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers.

Having played in three world cups, Smith had little chance of making it to another.

While the Test series against India was a decent one for Smith – with scores of 68, 44, 47 and 27 not out at an average of 62 -- he has struggled in the current Test series against Australia, averaging 8.4 from five innings.

At his pre-match press conference on Friday, Smith was asked how many Newlands Test matches he had left in him but gave no indication of an imminent retirement.

"I don't spend too much time thinking about that," said Smith.

"I definitely don't see myself playing to the age of Kallis or Sachin Tendulkar [40], not that I'm in the same bracket as them. Hopefully I'll know when the time is right.

"I'm 33 now, and still have a lot more to do in the game."

His retirement on Wednesday, at the end of the third Test against Australia, brings to a close a 12 year career.

It began with his Test debut against Australia in Cape Town in March 2002 -- the same venue where he now brings down the curtain.

Smith will continue to play for English county Surrey where he signed a three-year contract last year. – Sapa


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