South Africa Test captain Graeme Smith has been named Surrey skipper after agreeing a three-year deal with the LV= County Championship first division club.
In a major coup for the club Surrey confirmed this morning that Smith, who has 102 Test caps, would take charge "with immediate effect" in a move that is set to leave question marks over his international future.
The 31-year-old opener had initially played down suggestions of a move to the Kia Oval following the Proteas' Test series win over England this summer.
Surrey have been searching for a new captain since Rory Hamilton-Brown stepped down from the role last season following the death of his team-mate and close friend Tom Maynard in June.
Smith is currently in Australia where he will lead South Africa in a three-Test series, which begins in Brisbane next Friday.
The news is set to come as a shock to the Proteas as they look to defend their number one Test status.
"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," Smith said.
"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 and 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."
Surrey finished just above the relegation places in their first season back in the first division following a season that was overshadowed by Maynard's death.
The 23-year-old batsman was killed when he was hit by a London Underground train at Wimbledon Park in the early hours of June 18.