Graeme Smith has been roped in to be the head coach of Benoni Zalmi in the upcoming T20 Global League. After taking retirement from his career three years ago, this is the first time that the former South African captain will coach a team. While on a conversation with Hindustan Times, he also voiced his urge to coach the national team soon.
These are some of the excerpts from the conversation.
On speaking about retirement and coaching:
I am excited. The offer came at the right time and I wanted to do it with full commitment. I led the South African cricket team for eleven long years. I wanted to give time to my kids and wife. I was also interested in developing certain businesses and had also been busy with conducting public speaking.
I was also doing cricket commentary for radio and television. After a break of three years, I feel refreshed to have a go at the sport I love the most. South Africa is a bit late in launching its own T20 league, but one will feel the hype when it gets rolling. I could have played cricket for a bit longer. But my family needed me, so there are no regrets.
On speaking about being SA coach in future:
I captained South Africa for more than a decade and all the Amlas, ABs, Steyn and a few others started under my leadership and grew into world-class cricketers. It was an honor to have such players in the side and get a chance to groom them and be their mentor. I have got the experience of building an environment for grooming cricketers. I will definitely consider the offer of becoming the SA team coach down the line. It will take time.
On speaking about ABD leaving captaincy and Faf taking over:
Faf is doing a wonderful job as captain in Tests and T20Is. He is growing in stature. But I think leading in all three formats can really wear you down mentally. My advice for him will be to lead in just two formats. It can really be stressful and take a toll on the mind. With so much international cricket happening these days, leading the national team in all formats can be really demanding.
On speaking about team’s present conditions:
It was disappointing to see South Africa fizzle out against England and also in the Champions Trophy. I do not know what happened, maybe it was due to the fact that coach Russell (Domingo)’s tenure was coming to an end. There are a few youngsters in the team and some who have been there for a long time. They need to bridge the gap between international and domestic cricketers. SA are in rebuilding phase, but with more exposure, they will be fine-tuned.
On speaking about Proteas visiting India and taking over a strong team:
India has been doing quite well in Test cricket. A lot can be attributed to how Virat Kohli has been playing Test cricket and inspiring teammates. I think the conditions in South Africa will be very different and western for the Indian team. They have been playing either at home or in Sri Lanka and the Caribbean where the ball comes a bit slow. The conditions in SA will be the real test for the Indians.
On speaking about key points South Africa should keep in mind during India vs SA:
It would be interesting to see how Indians fare against SA bowlers like Rabada, Morkel, Philander and Keshav Maharaj. Also, having Dale Steyn back in the side would work for the SA team. He has done well against the Indians and having his experience would mean a lot for SA. I think SA batsmen will have to score big. The batting department looks a bit unsettled. Also, the combination SA chooses will make a difference.