Johannesburg: South African captain Graeme Smith has announced that he will end his 347-match international career after the third Test against Australia at Newlands.
In a statement, Smith said, "This has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life. It's a decision that I have been considering since my ankle surgery in April last year. I have a young family to consider, and I felt that retiring at Newlands would be the best way to end it because I have called this place home since I was 18 years-old.
"I have always been someone who has left everything out there on the field for my team and for my country. I'm extremely honoured and proud to have had the privilege to lead so many wonderful players and to have been a part of building the Proteas culture to what it is today. It is a culture that every player can be, and is, immensely proud of."
Thanking his family and fans, Smith added: "I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the support from my parents and brother, my wife and children, my friends, my sponsors, my fans and to Cricket South Africa. I thank and honour the players who I have played with and those who have supported me and helped me to be the person and captain I am today.
"I have been fortunate to have had many highs, amongst them leading and being part of the best Test team in the world. I will cherish these memories for the rest of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I bid my career a fond yet sad farewell."
Smith made his first-class debut for South Africa at the age of 21, and will end his illustrious career with 17, 228 international runs and as the most capped Test captain in the history of the game.
According to Sport24, Smith informed his teammates about his decision after the close of play on day three of the third Test against Australia at the Newlands.
CSA reacted with surprise to Smith's decision, but CSA chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, said that they must respect him for deciding to call time, adding that he has captained the team for more than a decade and will draw a lot more satisfaction from the fact that he leaves the Test team at the top of the world.
"Although Graeme's decision to retire from all forms of international cricket comes as a surprise to all of us, we must respect him for deciding to call time," Lorgat said. "Knowing him as well as I do, having been instrumental as a selector in appointing him as a young captain, he would not have taken this decision lightly or without a great deal of thought," he added.
The CSA CEO continued: "He has captained the Proteas for more than a decade and he will draw a lot more satisfaction from the fact that he leaves our Test team at the top of the world and in such good health rather than from all the personal records he has achieved as the longest-serving captain the game has ever seen in the demanding Test format.
"I would like us to remember Graeme for his nerves of steel and his match-winning performances that were synonymous with some of the most remarkable fourth innings victory chases of all time. These included setting up the 414 runs chase against Australia at Perth and his series-clinching innings at Edgbaston in 2008, not to mention the unbeaten century the last time he faced Australia at Newlands in 2011. His role in setting up the famous 438 win over Australia in 2006 was also a performance never to be forgotten.
"He can leave the game with pride and he thoroughly deserves the gratitude of our nation for leading the Proteas with much distinction. From a personal point of view I am thrilled that I was part of the panel that appointed him captain in 2003 when his first major assignment was a tough tour to England and I feel privileged to see him now move on to the next stage of his career. He has been a mighty warrior, a leader of men and an exceptional part of our international cricket."