Cricket South Africa’s director of cricket Graeme Smith categorically denies recent allegations leveled against him by ex-wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile. These were around team selections during his time as captain of the national team and termed them “extremely hurtful”. Thami’s comments caused a huge stir in the cricket fraternity of South Africa and many questions were raised, both on him and Smith.
Smith, at 22, became the youngest to lead South Africa when he was appointed captain of the national team in 2003.
Tsolekile, who was banned for 12 years after being implicated for fixing matches in 2015, criticized Smith for not backing him enough during their time as international cricketers and alleged that CSA was trying to protect other wrongdoers.
“Thami Tsolekile was my captain at South Africa schools junior level. I have never had an issue with him as a person and he has never borne out the frustrations of his international career on a personal level,” Smith states in the statement.
“My relationship challenges with several other players, of all races, have been well documented in the past.
“It was impossible for me to win everyone’s approval at the same time but that is the nature of professional sport.”
There is some sense of justification behind Thami’s anger, as he was eventually robbed from his career as a professional cricketer.
However, accusing Smith is also premature, to say the least. His actions of match-fixing got him the punishment, and rightly so.
He also clarified that during his time as captain, he never had any say in team selections, deciding match fees and contracts.
“I should emphasise that I was never in charge of selections. I had an opinion as a captain, but the casting vote was with the coach and the selectors. In the case of the 2012 tour to England, which Thami has alluded to, there was a whole panel of selectors.”
“Thami was in the squad as reserve keeper to AB de Villiers and this was communicated to him on both the England and Australian tours by Gary Kirsten, which has been previously acknowledged by Thami.”