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He has not scored a half-century for eight innings - although did make 234 against Pakistan in October - and if South Africa lose against Australia it will be their first series loss since 2008-09.
There were rumours before the India series late last year that Smith, who took on the captaincy in 2003, threatened to resign over selection issues.
"He can leave the game with pride and he thoroughly deserves the gratitude of our nation for leading the Proteas with much distinction.
Stand-out performances that he will be remembered for include back-to-back double hundreds against England in 2003, his series-winning innings at Edgbaston in 2008, captaining South Africa to a series with in Australia, during which he came out to bat with a broken hand in Sydney, and maintaining South Africa's formidable record on the subcontinent.