Former South Africa captain and director of cricket Graeme Smith has been cleared of racism allegations, Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced on Sunday. Two independent arbitrators – Adv Ngwako Maenetje SC and Adv Michael Bishop – found no proper evidence to support findings in the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) commission’s report

Notably, the SJN had made tentative findings that Smith and several other people, such as Mark Boucher and AB de Villiers, amongst others, had engaged in conduct that was discriminatory on the basis of race.

Smith, in particular, was accused of not giving fair chances to former wicketkeeper-batter Thami Tsolekile after an eye injury ended Boucher’s career in July 2012. Tsolekile had suspected that he was identified as Boucher’s successor but was sidelined after De Villiers was given preference over him.

However, now the arbitration process found that there was no evidentiary basis that Smith had engaged in racial discrimination:

  • 1) against former wicketkeeper Tsolekile in the period 2012-2014, when he was nationally contracted but was not picked for the Test team;
  • 2) against black leadership at CSA after it was alleged that he refused to work with former CEO Thabang Moroe and
  • 3) in the appointment of Mark Boucher over Enoch Nkwe as national men’s coach in 2019.

Not to mention, Smith’s tenure at CSA has already concluded. His contract expired on March 31, and he chose not to reapply for the position. CSA acknowledged the work Smith did through the worst of the pandemic and oversaw a fairly successful period for both men’s and women’s national cricket.

“The manner in which these issues have been dealt with and resolved by the arbitration proceedings confirms CSA’s commitment to deal with the SJN issues in a manner that treats them with utmost seriousness but also ensures fairness, due process and finality,” said Lawson Naidoo, Chairperson of the CSA Board.

“Now that finality on these processes has been reached, it is appropriate to recognise the extraordinary contribution that Graeme has made to South African cricket, first as the longest-serving test captain in cricket history and then as Director of Cricket from 2019 to 2022. His role as the DoC has been critical in rebuilding the Proteas Men’s team in particular and has laid a solid foundation for his successor,” he added.

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