Never a dull moment when it comes to decisions made by Cricket South Africa (CSA) – and the clear lack of foresight that goes into them!
The governing cricket body in the country announced on Monday that Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher, two of South Africa’s most prominent cricket personalities, will face formal hearings into claims of racial discrimination “early in the new year”.
CSA did not commit to an exact date, but one can assume “early” in 2022 means at some point in January 2022.
One wonders if CSA even remembered that January will see the staging of two Tests and three ODIs against India?
The first of those will be the New Year’s Test which will take place from 3-7 January, followed by the third and final clash from 11-15 January.
The sides will then do battle in ODIs on 19, 21 and 23 January.
Can you think of anything worse than having your director of cricket (Smith) and head coach (Boucher) aware of their inquiries going on in the boardroom WHILE trying to win a series on the field!?
Baffling to say the very least!
The CSA statement confirmed that both men will remain in their positions until the hearings, to be conducted by independent legal professionals, have been concluded.
Smith and Boucher, along with now-retired batsman AB de Villiers, were implicated in a report by Social Justice and National Building (SJN) ombudsman Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza of acting in a “prejudicial or discriminatory manner”.
CSA acknowledged that Ntsebeza’s findings, which also implicated several other people, were “tentative” and that the ombudsman had said in his interim report released last week that he could not make definite findings.
“The Board has decided to institute formal enquiries into CSA employees, suppliers or contractors who are implicated by the SJN report,” read the CSA statement.
“The Board has done so mindful of its duty to treat allegations of racism or discrimination with the utmost seriousness and in a manner that ensures fairness and due process in terms of South Africa’s labour legislation and the Constitution.”
CSA chairperson Lawson Naidoo said: “We hope this will give implicated parties a fair opportunity to be heard so that finality can be achieved, and any final findings can then be acted on.”
Ntsebeza’s findings were criticised by David Becker, Graeme Smith’s lawyer, in a statement issued on Friday.
“Some of the findings are entirely questionable and without any basis,” said Becker, who claimed Ntsebeza had ignored “important parts of the evidence” submitted by Smith and other implicated persons.
Becker also queried why the evidence submitted by complainants at the SJN hearings had not been tested and why witnesses had not been cross-examined.
Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher appointments at heart of the issue
With race being a sensitive issue in South Africa, the appointment of white males Smith and Boucher ahead of black candidates has been a subject of controversy since both were appointed in 2019, despite them having played in more than 100 Test matches.
Smith’s contract ends in March next year while Boucher was appointed through to the end of the 2023 Cricket World Cup.