Former captain Graeme Smith ‘blocked’ Thami Tsolekile’s entry into the South Africa side because of racial bias, their former teammate Lonwabo Tsotsobe has alleged. In a seven-page submission to the country’s cricket board, the former left-arm seamer has revealed that Smith allegedly threatened to resign if Tsolekile was picked in the side on a tour of England in 2012.
Tsotsobe alleges that Tsolekile was picked in the South Africa side as Mark Boucher’s deputy, but AB de Villiers was given the gloves after a freak injury to Boucher.
“Tsolekile was destined to replace Boucher‚ but suddenly AB de Villiers was made the keeper. Wicketkeeper is a specialist position that needed a specialist of which De Villiers is not. The idea of assigning keeping duties to De Villiers was to block the selection of a black player in the fold of Tsolekile,” Tsotsobe’s submission to CSA said, according to TimesLive.
“This was confirmed by Smith who categorically stated that if Tsolekile was selected he would retire with immediate effect‚” alleges Tsotsobe.
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This revelation follows closely on the heels of the indefinite postponement of CSA’s transformation public hearings, which were scheduled to commence on Monday morning.
Smith, who captained the Proteas national team from 2003 until his retirement in 2014‚ was asked through the CSA’s communications office to confirm or deny the allegations made by Tsotsobe, but he did not respond.
Tsolekile himself had last year spoken about the 2012 incident on a South African podcast, saying how he was sidelined despite being picked as deputy wicketkeeper was ‘pure racism’.