Graeme Smith
Graeme Smith Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Johannesburg: South African cricket's governing body appointed former captain Graeme Smith as director of the sport in an effort to end an ongoing crisis on and off the pitch.

The 38-year-old agreed to take the role on an interim basis after weeks of negotiations and initially withdrawing his interest on Twitter last month. The move follows the suspension of Cricket South Africa Chief Executive Officer Thabang Moroe last week for unspecified wrongdoing, and Standard Bank Group Ltd. ending a vital sponsorship deal when it expires next year.

"To have Smith on board to work with the professional cricket arm of CSA, as well as the cricketing pipeline, which is so vital for our game, is a massive shot in the arm," Acting CEO Jacques Faul said in a statement on Wednesday.

Smith has agreed to take on the job until the start of next year's Indian Premier League in April, a high-profile and lucrative domestic competition featuring many of South Africa's best players. He will be in charge during a men's home series against England starting later this month and a visit from Australia in February to play the shorter forms of the game.

Besides issues with Moroe and sponsors, CSA is battling mounting losses and is engaged in a legal battle with players over plans to restructure the domestic system. The team itself has also struggled this year, losing to Sri Lanka at home for the first time and failing to qualify from the group stage of the world cup.

Smith captained the side for 11 years until his retirement in 2014. He is the country's third-highest run scorer in tests, the five-day format considered by many to be the pinnacle of the sport. Under his tenure, South Africa was the top-ranked Test team for almost two years, starting in 2012.