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A diplomatic Clay Smith gave World Cup captain Irving Romaine his unqualified support yesterday - despite the disappointment of relinquishing a job about which he cares so passionately.

Chairman of selectors Arnold Manders confirmed that Romaine would be the man to lead Bermuda out onto the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad for their opening game against India in March, bringing to an end months of debate over whether Smith (pictured) should return to captain the one-day team if his wonky left knee recovered sufficiently from surgery.

Since being appointed the national team skipper in October, 2003, Smith's acknowledged charisma and competitive spirit have generally brought about an impressive improvement in the fortunes of the side.

Smith's tenure, however, has also been blighted by injuries to both his knees and hamstrings - meaning that for extended periods, others such as Janeiro Tucker, Romaine and Dean Minors have had to assume the helm.

This year, knee surgery in February kept him on the sidelines until August's tour of Canada, when he returned to the fold to captain the team in the Intercontinental Cup - leaving Romaine in charge of the One-Day Internationals in which Smith was only expected to play a limited part.

This trend continued on the recently-concluded tour of Africa, though with doubts still remaining over the reliability of Smith's knee and with a little under three months to go before the World Cup, the selectors have finally been forced into a decision that could not have been easy to make.

'It's been an honour to captain my country and I cannot deny that it's something I enjoyed doing immensely,' said Smith. 'But it's also an honour just to represent your country and from my perspective, I have always tried to put the interests of the team before my own. The selectors have made a decision which they feel is in the best interests of the team and I am happy to fulfil whatever role is required of me. I'm proud of what I've achieved over the last couple of years, but now my focus has got to be on my batting and making sure that I'm as fit as I possibly can be for the cricket we've got coming up. I've seen first-hand how good a captain Irving is and in Dean I think he has an excellent vice-captain. I want to congratulate them both.'

Meanwhile, Romaine admitted he was happy that his captaincy had now been made official - a move which will allow him to concentrate fully on the job and not constantly be wondering whether he would have to make way on Smith's return.

'I'm overwhelmed with the news to be honest,' he said. It's obviously a very proud moment for me personally and I am glad it's all been made official so I can stop thinking about what exactly was going to happen. I feel I have the respect of the players. Everybody knows that I like to laugh and joke but I've been captain long enough now for the players to know when it's time for the joking to stop.'