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Smith concerned over South African player exodus

By Fakir Hassen, IANS

Johannesburg : South African cricket captain Graeme Smith says the exodus of players is a matter of great concern, but he understands that the money they will be earning in the Indian Cricket league (ICL) is a major consideration for them.

Speaking to the Afrikaans daily Beeld here Tuesday evening before the team left for Pakistan for a month-long tour, Smith said he was greatly bothered by the number of players who are turning their backs on South African cricket.

“What concerns me most is how the administrators are going to handle the situation,” he said.

Three national players – Andrew Hall, Johan van der Wath and Loots Bosman – have severed ties with South African cricket in the past three weeks.

“It’s difficult to stop them, because there are young guys of 21 or 22 who are leaving because they do not have the patience to play their way up to the national squad. Then there are also players in the twilight of their careers who want to follow that route (of ICL offers),” he said.

“What is most alarming though is the fact that there are players turning their backs on South African cricket who can still mean so much for the national side. That is where our administrators must think carefully (about how) to retain this group,” he added.

Smith said he had recently also had lengthy chats with veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis and convinced him to again give his best for South Africa.

Kallis resigned as vice-captain after being left out of the side in the just concluded Twenty20 World Championships, where India booted the hosts out before beating Pakistan in Monday’s final. Kallis is now with the side touring Pakistan.

“Cricket is the most important thing in Jacques’ life. He had no problems with his team mates but rather with the (administrative) people higher up.”

Asked who his vice-captain is now on the Pakistan tour, Smith responded: “I wish I knew. If I find out, I’ll let you know but it seems that sort of information is not meant for me.”