Johannesburg: Graeme Smith contemplated stepping down from leadership role in all forms of cricket after last year's World Cup but was talked out of quitting Test captaincy by coach Gary Kirsten, a report said. Smith led South Africa in all three formats for eight years but quit captaincy of the Twenty20 and ODI teams in August 2010 and April 2011 respectively.
Smith said he wanted to step down as Test skipper also at the same time he relinquished ODI captaincy but Kirsten convinced him to continue in the longest format of the game. "After the World Cup, when things were tough, it certainly was something that was on my mind. Gary played a role in me keeping the captaincy. He talked me into doing it for longer and he was the reason I decided to carry on," Smith was quoted as saying by a leading website.
South Africa's loss against New Zealand in the World Cup quarter-finals was a massive setback for Smith and he addressed the media almost in tears as he explained how he had wanted to lift the coveted trophy and then step down as ODI captain. He did not return home with the rest of the team but flew to Ireland to propose to the woman who is now his wife, Morgan Deane. South African public criticised him in many forums, for his lack of both leadership and form.
Smith described the period that followed the World Cup as "the most difficult" of his career and he said he thought reducing his load would allow him to concentrate on batting. However, without any clear replacement available in the longest format, Smith was asked to stay on as captain and he was convinced by Kirsten, who was then newly recruited as coach.
"Gary was a big instigator in me carrying on captaining the Test side. I've certainly enjoyed working with him and the management team, which has also helped. As long as I can keep enjoying it and keep adding value then I will captain," said Smith before his side's departure to England.
"I don't know if I will captain the Test side for as long as I play. I've only just turned 31 and I feel I still have a lot to offer from a batting perspective but I certainly don't see myself captaining until the time I retire," he added.
Smith, however, was not contemplating retirement in the near future. "In long run, I'm going to concentrate on performance. I'm still hungry, I've got a lot of things that I want to achieve," Smith, who has scored 8042 runs from 99 Tests at an average of 49.64, said.
He said he has matured since his first visit to England in 2003, as a 23-year-old novice captain. "In the early days I didn't know who I needed to be and what was important from a leadership role. I wanted to come across as a strong leader," Smith said, explaining why he was sometimes perceived as cocky. "But now I'm at peace with things and I think that comes through. I'm more relaxed in showing my personality and how I feel, and I'm much more at peace with understanding what I need to do."
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