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Smith to retire from international cricket

Proteas Test captain Graeme Smith will retire after the current Test series against Australia.

Proteas Test captain Graeme Smith has announced his retirement from international cricket. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Proteas Test captain Graeme Smith announced that he will retire from international cricket after the current series against Australia.

Smith, who is the world's longest-serving Test captain, made the announcement to his team-mates at the close of play yesterday.

Nicknamed 'Biff', Smith said it was the most difficult decision he had to make in his life, but had been considering it since his ankle injury last year.

Calling Newlands home, Smith said it is the perfect venue at which to bow out.

Smith said he was honoured to have captained so many great players.

"I'm extremely honoured and proud to have had the privilege to lead so many wonderful players and to have been a part of building the Proteas culture to what it is today. It is a culture that every player can be, and is, immensely proud of."

He thanked his team-mates, family, friends, fans and Cricket South Africa for supporting him and making him the captain he is today.

"I have been fortunate to have had many highs, amongst them leading and being part of the best Test team in the world. I will cherish these memories for the rest of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I bid my career a fond yet sad farewell."

Meanwhile, Proteas coach Russell Domingo said it was an emotional evening after Smith broke the news.

"It's been quite an emotional evening. Most of these guys that are playing have only played with Graeme as their captain, so it's going to be a new era now with someone else having to take over. Quite a few guys have been hugely affected by it, and it's obviously sad to see him go."

CSA's REACTION

CSA's chief executive officer, Haroon Lorgat who was also a selector when Smith was appointed as captain, was surprised at the decision.

"Although Graeme's decision to retire from all forms of international cricket comes as a surprise to all of us, we must respect him for deciding to call time."

Lorgat praised Smith for his contribution to the game and acknowledged him as one of the true legends of the game.

"He has captained the Proteas for more than a decade and he will draw a lot more satisfaction from the fact that he leaves our Test team at the top of the world and in such good health."

Smith made his first-class debut for South Africa at the age of 21.

He hit a total if 17,228 international runs.