Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith who is currently Cricket South Africa’s director of cricket, became the centre of controversy when he appointed former wicket-keeper Mark Boucher as the coach of the national team. Smith got accused of allowing black players in the team to feel isolated while he was the skipper of the side.
Former Proteas wicket-keeper Thami Tsolekile particularly bashed Graeme Smith during a radio interview on Tuesday. He blamed the former skipper for keeping him out of the Test squad after Mark Boucher suffered a career-ending eye injury in 2012 during the tour of England.
Although even after being subsequently banned for 12 years for his role in the match-fixing scandal in a domestic competition, Tsolekile was in the squad as a reverse wicketkeeper, instead, the gloves were handed over to leading batsman AB de Villiers.
On Thursday, Graeme Smith responded to all these allegations of being bias to black players in the South African squad while he was the captain of the side. Smith said that it was in the early days of his captaincy that he realized that it is not possible to please everyone in the team.
In a statement released on his personal capacity, Smith said, “I look at many respected captains around the world and there are plenty of players who felt they were not given a fair chance.”
The 39-year old former Proteas player further gave the example of Australia’s Steve Waugh who is a highly regarded captain also had his detractors from former teammates.
Smith also mentioned that other key players like Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener were also dropped from the team before it was their time to retire.
Speaking of the same he said that back in the days there was an emotional discussion on the topic because they both are the legends of SA’s cricket history.
Later in his statement, Graeme Smith sympathized with Tsolekile saying that since wicket-keeping was a specialist role and it was a norm for wicket-keepers to have long careers in international cricket, keeping other capable glovemen out of the squad. He also added that “a whole panel of selectors” made the decision to pick De Villiers instead of Tsolekile in 2012 and that then-coach Gary Kirsten had told Tsolekile that he was reserved to De Villiers following Boucher’s injury.
In the past couple of weeks, a group of retired black players and coaches have opposed events in South Africa cricket, including the selection of Mark Boucher as a coach of the national side ahead of black coaches with better professional requirements for coaching.
Whereas, Boucher only has a level two certificate in coaching, which is given to the former players without having to attend any courses.