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Cautious Smith confirms on-going discussions over South Africa role

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By Reuters
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CAPETOWN (Reuters) – Graeme Smith has confirmed he is again in discussions with Cricket South Africa (CSA) to be their new Director of Cricket, but said a Sunday newspaper report that he had already been appointed was premature.

Smith, the most successful test captain in cricket history with 53 wins, had been encouraged to apply by embattled CSA chief executive officer Thabang Moroe as the organisation seeks a long-term replacement for Ottis Gibson, whose contract was not renewed after a dismal World Cup in England.

Smith turned down the job in November, but a report in South Africa’s Sunday Times said that he had now been persuaded to accept it. However, he said that was not true, at least not yet.

“Contrary to media reports I have not been appointed Director of Cricket by CSA. As previously advised, I withdrew my application for the role. I am, however, in ongoing discussions with CSA, but I still have real concerns, which I have reiterated to them,” he said via Twitter.

Smith called his previous discussions with CSA a “frustrating process”, without divulging his concerns.

Smith announced in a statement on Nov. 14 that he was withdrawing his application having “not developed the necessary confidence that I would be given the level of freedom and support to initiate the required changes”.

Moroe has come under fire for the length of time it has taken to fill the role vacated by Gibson in August, especially with a looming, high-profile four-test home series against England that starts on Boxing Day.

Little-known Enoch Nkwe took up the job on an interim basis for a disastrous test tour of India in October that saw the side slip to three heavy defeats, and will continue for the England series unless a permanent appointment is made.

Moroe has also been criticised for an authoritarian style of leadership that saw CSA briefly revoke the media accreditation of five journalists on Sunday, before restoring their access hours later after an outcry over press freedom.

“Their access was revoked because we’ve been trying on numerous occasions to sit with them so that we can say guys we are not happy with the way you are representing us in the public. We are not silencing journalists,” Moroe told Eye Witness News on Monday.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Peter Graff)