Boucher should have been asked to step aside until his name is ...

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Boucher should have been asked to step aside until his name is cleared

By not asking him to do so, the CSA board and director of cricket Graeme Smith have shown a lack of leadership

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Mark Boucher says he never called Paul Adams a 'brown sh*t'.
I DIDN'T SAY THAT Mark Boucher says he never called Paul Adams a 'brown sh*t'.
Image: Seb Daly/Gallo Images

It is no exaggeration to suggest the demeanour of the Proteas players, coaches and management staff was reminiscent of a funeral procession arriving at a cemetery when they walked through the boarding gates at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday morning.

The sombre mood was unmistakable and you would have been forgiven for thinking they were on their way to bury a close friend, rather than play a series of international matches in Sri Lanka.

It was a depressing sight and you have to wonder how this team will perform against the Sri Lankans in the three ODIs and three T20 matches to be played in Colombo from September 2 to 14.  

We certainly did not expect them to run around the airport terminal flashing broad smiles as if they were participating in a toothpaste advertisement, but given they are about to represent the nation in an international event, it would have been heartening to see a bunch of confident souls with a spring in their step as they handed in their boarding passes.

The videos of the team’s departure were released by team management shortly before they flew out of the country and unfortunately, they have only served to plunge me into unimaginable depths.

It is perplexing that the Cricket SA board and director of cricket Graeme Smith have not called a press conference to address a contentious issue that has dominated the public discourse recently.

All is not well in the team and you do not need to be a body-language expert to know that events of the past few weeks have taken a huge toll on the camp. 

It was always going to be a tough ask, as Proteas coach Mark Boucher is at the centre of a furious storm and these players are being asked to somehow ignore the dark cloud looming above the team.

The fact is, they are human beings before they are cricket players, and you have to wonder what has been going on in their minds since Paul Adams recently named former national teammate Boucher among a group of players he said directed derogatory songs at him during Cricket SA’s (CSA) Social Justice and Nation-Building committee.

While Boucher this week apologised for anything that may have offended any of his former national teammates, he insisted he never called Adams “brown sh*t”, as his erstwhile colleague alleged.

It is a cloud that will not go away any time soon and the voices of discontent are growing louder with each passing day.

His apology has led to numerous calls for his head, but predictably those have fallen on deaf ears, as he travelled with the team to Sri Lanka.

It is perplexing that the Cricket SA board and director of cricket Graeme Smith have not called a press conference to address a contentious issue that has dominated the public discourse recently.

I am not privy to machinations behind the scenes, but judging the camp at face value and on everything else that has transpired in the past few weeks, we should prepare for the worst when this team plays in Sri Lanka, never mind in the World Cup later this year.

To illustrate how this issue has been a consistent talking point, Boucher has been trending on social media in SA for the past few days as people vigorously discussed whether he should be sacked or allowed to continue in the job.

Unfortunately there has been lack of leadership from the board and Smith, and captain Temba Bavuma will be under tremendous pressure as he is going to be continuously asked about this matter during the tour.

This week Bavuma appeared to back Boucher, but the camp may be a ticking time bomb if there are players who have lost respect for the coach and do not want to work with him.

The Sri Lankan media are going to be interested in this story and there is serious danger that issues around Boucher may overshadow what the team is hoping to achieve in the subcontinent.

CSA, the board and Smith failed spectacularly to effectively deal with this issue. They should have asked Boucher to step aside and focus on clearing his name, rather than being part of the team while a dark cloud hangs over his head.

The accusations made by Adams are serious and CSA missed an opportunity to send a strong message that it is serious about dealing with difficult issues that affect the team.

I am not privy to machinations behind the scenes, but judging the camp at face value and on everything else that has transpired in the past few weeks, we should prepare for the worst when this team plays in Sri Lanka, never mind in the World Cup later this year.

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