Smith: Amla wouldn't have been my pick

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Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith has revealed that he was surprised by CSA's choice to replace him with Hashim Amla, saying he wouldn't have initially considered the batsman to be comfortable with the role.

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith has revealed that he was surprised by CSA's choice to replace him with Hashim Amla, saying he wouldn't have initially considered the batsman to be comfortable with the role.

Amla was chosen as captain ahead of AB de Villiers, who had been nearly everyone's pick to replace Smith earlier this year, but 'Biff' told South African journalist Ruda Landman that he now thought Amla would do a good job.

Smith said of his replacement: "It's going to be interesting to watch. I have so much respect for Hash as a person and a cricketer. He is an outstanding cricketer.

"I don't think initially he would have been my first choice because he operates in a very removed way, he's very calm, relaxed and slightly removed in the environment. He's a very religious guy.

"But I think it's going to be interesting to see how he stands up now, being shoved, kind of a way, into the front. He has to make decisions for the team, attend all the meetings, all the press conferences but there's no doubt in my mind that he has the capacity for it."

Smith was also asked about the timing of his retirement, and he said that he'd been thinking about it for a while after Jacques Kallis retired, but that the situation with his family needed more of his attention.

He spoke about the Test against Australia at the start of the year, where his toddler daughter was in hospital at the same time, and feeling the pressure of having to go out and bat just hours after seeing her into surgery.

He explained: "When I think about it, it was a really stressful time in my life. She was burnt with hot water down her face, arm and leg. When she got hurt, we were in the middle of a massive series against Australia.

"I was taking her to the hospital on the morning of the game, having the procedure and then having to leave to go to play the Test match.

"I'd walk in with her, she'd be gassed and put out, then I'd lay her down on the bed, walk out, wait for her to recover and then go to the ground to play against Australia.

"It was a very stressful time and probably played a big role in why I retired."

He said that he did miss the team environment and his friends, but was a happier person without the decade-long pressure on his shoulders, and was grateful to have time to figure out his next move: "I miss my team-mates, I miss that environment.

"I really loved that part of sport – being out there, playing in tough parts of the world, winning and then sharing in the celebration, working hard. I miss that side of things actually.

"But I am loving the more relaxed nature. I feel like my heart can breathe again. I feel like there is a lot more space in my life. Initially, it was very daunting. I had been receiving one pay cheque for 12-13 years and that was no longer there.

"Luckily, I had looked after money reasonably well. It gave me space to take time and start to consider what is next for myself."

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