South Africa's Graeme Smith signs three-year contract to captain Surrey
Surrey have signed South Africa Test captain and opening batsman Graeme Smith on a three-year contract.
Last Updated: 01/11/12 7:38pm
The opening batsman has signed a three-year contract with Surrey and will skipper the county following Rory Hamilton-Brown's departure.
Smith last played domestic cricket in England in 2005, when he spent the season with Somerset.
The 31-year-old will continue to play international cricket during his time at The Oval.
He said: "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.
"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.
"I look forward to continuing to represent my country for many years to come."
South Africa are due to compete in the Champions Trophy in England next summer, where Smith would at present be available for selection in the middle of the county season.
The left-hander has scored more than 8,000 Test runs during his career, at an average just shy of 50, while he has also made 219 limited overs appearances.
He has twice led South Africa to the top of the Test rankings during 94 matches in charge after being handed the captaincy in 2003 as a 22-year-old.
"Signing Graeme Smith on a three-year deal is a massive coup for Surrey CCC," Surrey team director Chris Adams said.
"As well as being one of the best captains in the modern game, he is a phenomenal opening batsman and will lead by example from the top of the innings.
"By signing a three-year deal, Graeme has demonstrated his commitment to Surrey on a long-term basis and I look forward to working alongside him and the rest of our hugely talented squad to bring more silverware to this club in the near future."
Surrey finished just above the relegation places last summer, their first back in Division One, but the season was overshadowed by the death of their batsman Tom Maynard.
Hamilton-Brown, a close friend of Maynard, took a sabbatical from the game before announcing his return to Sussex following the end of the season.