South Africa Test captain Graeme Smith has been named Surrey skipper after agreeing a three-year deal with the LV= County Championship Division One club.
In a major coup for the club, Surrey confirmed that Smith, who has 102 Test caps, would take charge "with immediate effect" in a move that is set to leave question marks over his international future.
The 31-year-old opener had initially played down suggestions of a move to the Kia Oval following the Proteas' Test series win over England this summer. Surrey have been searching for a new captain since Rory Hamilton-Brown stepped down from the role last season following the death of his team-mate and close friend Tom Maynard in June.
Smith is currently in Australia where he will lead South Africa in a three-Test series, which begins in Brisbane next Friday. The news is set to come as a shock to the Proteas as they look to defend their number one Test status.
Smith has, however, previously stated that he would consider "all cricketing opportunities" after limiting his role in international cricket in recent times.
The opener is no longer considered for Twenty20 cricket while he stepped down from the 50-over captaincy following last year's World Cup.
In a statement released by Surrey, Smith assured South African fans, however, that he would balance his new role alongside playing for his country. He also thanked Cricket South Africa for allowing him to take up the Surrey offer.
"I am excited to be joining such a professional and talented team, during what will hopefully prove to be a rewarding and successful period for Surrey CCC," Smith said.
"When you consider the ambition shown it was an easy decision for myself and my family and I would like to thank Surrey County Cricket Club and Cricket South Africa for giving me the opportunity to lead the side and make it possible.
"I am excited about what we can achieve at Surrey going forward and would like to state very clearly that I will balance my new role alongside my continuing commitments to the Proteas and I look forward to continuing to represent my country for many years to come."
- Sports & Recreation
- Graeme Smith