Charl du Plessis
A DEFIANT Graeme Smith yesterday defended his decision not to return to South Africa after the Cricket World Cup in India, saying he had needed to take a break away “from being stupid and saying stupid things”.
“In the state of mind I was in at the end of that tournament it’s hard for me to look back and say that I made a mistake,” Smith, 30, said.
His decision to travel to Ireland and propose to his girlfriend, Irish pop singer
Morgan Deane, instead of returning to South Africa with the rest of the Proteas caused a storm among angry South African cricket fans in April.
Speaking at a press conference in Sandton, Johannesburg yesterday, Smith apologised and said his “decision to not return home should have been explained sooner. I apologise and make no excuse for it, but I ask the South African fans to understand that I was feeling incredibly emotional at the time”.
“The emotional strain and stress I was feeling after the World Cup, was something I hadn’t been through in my career,” he said.
But Smith stopped somewhat short of an unconditional apology when he later said he thought he “had done what was required” after the World Cup.
“I missed a 10-to-15 minute press conference coming home and then everyone else flew off in their different ways.”
He said he thought he had addressed all the reasons for his decision “in the final media conference with a large number of South African journalists there”.
Yesterday’s press conference was also attended by Deane, who watched Smith from the back of the room, wearing a pink dress. Smith proposed to her last month and the couple are currently in South Africa planning their wedding.
He also admitted during the press conference his own form had “not been what I hoped it would be of late”.
He blamed a knee injury that cut short his season with Indian Premier League side Pune Warriors, and said he would be working hard over the next few months to regain his form.
Proteas’ team manager Mohammed Moosajee also said Cricket South Africa would address a media conference on whether Smith would remain South Africa’s Test captain.