Cricket South Africa’s Lawson Naidoo and his Board should be shamed for not taking a stand against racial intolerance and against Proteas coach Mark Boucher, writes Mark Keohane.
Cricket South Africa’s new leadership were given an opportunity to action their words when it comes to their supposed fight against racial discrimination but chairperson Lawson Naidoo’s words are proving to be hollow and his silence in the wake of Mark Boucher’s admission earlier this week has been deafening.
Naidoo, a few months ago, was appointed as Cricket South Africa’s delegate to the ICC but any prospect that a change in leadership would bring about a change in attitude at Cricket South Africa was blown away this week with Naidoo’s voice nowhere to be heard, despite Proteas coach Boucher admitting in affidavits that he was part of the playing group that called coloured national teammate Paul Adams ‘Brown s**t’.
Boucher attempted to explain it all away by blaming Cricket South Africa for failing to provide white players with the tools to deal with an integrated squad post-apartheid.
Have you ever heard such a cop out or such nonsense?
Boucher was 20 years-old, educated at a fine school and should have had the common sense to know that what he was doing had everything to do with prejudice, racial intolerance and was offensive in every way. Even more so in the context of South Africa’s historical segregation under apartheid.
Naidoo hasn’t condemned Boucher and he hasn’t even offered a comment to the South African sporting public when it comes to why his Board has not acted on Boucher’s comments.
Boucher and the Proteas squad left for Sri Lanka this week, with Boucher displaying the strut of an untouchable, which he seems to be within South African cricket.
Boucher’s results as the Proteas coach have been poor, yet his status as head coach has not been challenged by Naidoo and the Board. Boucher’s racially offensive remarks as a player in an era where his attitude reinforced racial prejudice has also gone unchallenged.
Boucher should not have got a plane this week to Sri Lanka. The Board should have ensured this when Boucher refused to resign or show any meaningful understanding of his actions. His cop out was to have his legal teams use words like ‘alleged’ and ‘perceived truth’.
Boucher was the leader of the national white playing pack who dictated certain ways within in the squad and among the most vocal in opposing the views of non-white players who a decade ago wanted the white imbalance addressed and also wanted a voice within the squad.
Boucher, in his affidavit, implied that it was a challenge to go from segregation caused by apartheid to inclusivity. He, like his white teammates, just couldn’t rid themselves of this superior race and class complex.
Boucher wrote: ‘There was no guidance, no culture discussions, no open fora and no one appointed by CSA to deal with the awkwardness or questions or pressures that were being experienced by the players and, in particular, by the players of colour.’
What a smokescreen!
Boucher’s former provincial and national teammate Ashwell Prince, in his SJN testimony, stated that the players of colour in the team had tried to address the racially offensive issues.
They were shut down by a white majority who refused to enter into discussions. Boucher was among the most senior players in determining that these players of colour did not have a voice.
Boucher’s international career as a player must not be confused with his attitude when it comes to racial prejudice and it is an attitude that should have seen him fired as the Proteas coach with immediate effect.
Instead, it was Boucher’s assistant coach Enoch Nkwe who resigned with immediate effect because of Boucher’s leadership and the team culture.
Nkwe told the media he had been sidelined by Boucher and reduced to an afterthought in the coaching set-up.
Cricket South Africa, under Naidoo’s watch, accepted Nkwe’s resignation and expressed regret that the coach did not see out his contract until 2023.
Naidoo and his Board should be shamed for not taking a stand against racial intolerance and against Boucher.
They have given Boucher unconditional backing at a time when they should have shown him the backdoor and not a business class ticket to Sri Lanka to be the face of the Proteas and Cricket South Africa.
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