BLOEMFONTEIN, October 7 – For the first time in seven years, Graeme Smith will be one of the "other ranks" when South Africa play Zimbabwe in two Twenty20 internationals this weekend.Smith was appointed South African captain at the age of 22 in 2003 and has led the country in 77 Test matches, 131 one-day internationals and 27 Twenty20 internationals.
He announced in August he was stepping down immediately as T20 captain and that he would quit the one-day captaincy after the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
He intends to stay on as Test captain and said his decision to shed some of his responsibilities was aimed at prolonging an international career which he hoped to continue for another five or six years.
Johan Botha, who captained South Africa in five T20 games when Smith was injured or rested, has been appointed captain in the shortest form of the game.
The Twenty20 internationals are in Bloemfontein on Friday and Kimberley on Sunday. Smith will resume the captaincy in three one-day internationals in Bloemfontein, Potchefstroom and Benoni which follow the 20-over games.
Zimbabwe are unlikely to pose a major challenge to South Africa, although the hosts have not played any international cricket since ending a series in the West Indies in June.
Zimbabwe arrived in South Africa on Monday following a modest success in a three-match one-day series against Ireland, which they won by two matches to one.
The visitors have recalled 39-year-old batsman Grant Flower after a six-year absence but surprisingly dropped Brendan Taylor, their leading run-scorer in one-day internationals this year.
South Africa have a 29-2 winning record in one-day internationals against Zimbabwe and have won the most recent 18 matches between the two countries. They have yet to meet in a T20 international.
Both captain Elton Chigumbura and coach Alan Butcher said when the team arrived on Monday that they were determined to play aggressive cricket against their powerful opponents.
"The coach and I have chosen to go in a more aggressive route with the team, we will no longer be playing just for the sake of playing a match, but we will be playing to win," said Chigumbura.
South Africa will seek to bounce back from a disappointing campaign in the World Twenty20 tournament in the West Indies earlier this year, while in the 50-over games they will be looking to build confidence in a season which culminates in the World Cup.
The series will mark the return of left-arm fast bowler Wayne Parnell to the South African team after a groin injury which has kept him out of action since January.
South Africa: Johan Botha (capt), Loots Bosman, JP Duminy, Colin Ingram, Heino Kuhn (wkt), Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Graeme Smith, Rusty Theron, Lonwabo Tsotsobe
Note: Smith will take over the captaincy for the one-day internationals in which Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Jacques Kallis, Charl Langeveldt and Dale Steyn will replace Bosman, Kuhn, McLaren and Theron
Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (capt), Hamilton Masakadza, Chamu Chibhabha, Tatenda Taibu (wkt), Shingirai Masakadza, Ian Nicolson, Prosper Utseya, Graeme Cremer, Charles Coventry, Ed Rainsford, Chris Mpofu, Keith Dabengwa, Grant Flower
Note: Sean Williams and Craig Ervine will be added to the squad for the one-day internationals
Oct 8: First Twenty20 international, Bloemfontein
Oct 10: Second Twenty20 international, Kimberley
Oct 15: First one-day international, Bloemfontein
Oct 17: Second one-day international, Potchefstroom
Oct 22: Third one-day international, Benoni