James Nixon | 12:01am GMT 04 January 2020
In a stunning and most unexpected turnaround, Graeme Smith has agreed to become the acting Director of Cricket in South Africa. This news comes hot on the heels of Smith’s refusal to take up the position citing concerns that he would not have the freedom to implement the required changes the organization needed so badly. There have, however, been a flurry of suspensions and resignations from the South African cricket board over the last week which could well have changed Smith’s mind.
Smith has signed a three-month contract that will run to the start of the 2020 IPL and it’s not clear what will happen when this rolling contract comes to an end, or why it is only 90 days. One could speculate but the rule of thumb over the last 24 months when it comes to the hierarchy of South African cricket is to try and not second guess them as they often do the bizarre and unexpected.
“I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the role.”
Former captain Graeme Smith has been appointed as South Africa’s acting director of cricket.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) December 11, 2019
Having said that, the likeliest assumption is that Smith asked for three months instead of being told he would be given that amount of time. Smith has called the shots throughout Cricket South Africa’s courting of him and it’s unlikely that he would have given in now. Even if it is only three months there is still time for Smith to leave his mark given that England and Australia will both be coming to South African shores. The general assumption would be that if the Proteas were to win both of those series then there would be a deafening clamor for Smith to get the role on a full-time basis and take the team into the 2020 T20 World Cup.
That is another tough ask as right now online cricket betting has the Proteas as 5th favorites to win the T20 World Cup so it’s easy to see how big a challenge Smith has ahead of him. This is the proverbial baptism of fire for Smith which no doubt has its positives and negatives. The positives are that if Smith gets off to a winning start then the winds of change would have blown in the rainbow nation with the Proteas looking a world force once more. The negatives – which you probably have guessed – are that if Smith fails, this once-proud cricketing nation will be left dangling on the precipice of decline.
Indeed, the mountain ahead is high and the weather forecast very bleak but Smith is the shining light that can give South Africa safe passage over. If anyone can do it, the youngest captain the rainbow nation ever had can.
The messages of goodwill Smith will receive as he starts this journey will come from not just in South Africa but far and wide as the world knows how important a strong Proteas side is to the relevance of international cricket.
Some might say that tackling adversity is a natural part of any South African’s DNA and in a year where they have won the Rugby World Cup and been crowned Miss Universe, there is genuine hope that Graeme Craig Smith can add to the feel-good story and get this right.