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Former South Africa captain and director of cricket cleared of racism

Graeme Smith's contract as CSA director of cricket ended in March

Graeme Smith's contract as CSA director of cricket ended in March

Former South Africa captain and director of cricket Graeme Smith has been cleared of racism allegations by two independent arbitrators.

Smith, 41, was among several Cricket South Africa (CSA) employees implicated in “tentative findings” made by the Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) ombudsman last year.

The report claimed Smith had engaged in racially biased and discriminatory behaviour on three counts as Proteas captain and CSA’s director of cricket.

However, Smith was cleared of all allegations by two independent advocates, who found “no evidentiary basis” the former opener had engaged in racial discrimination

CSA has been ordered to pay Smith’s costs for the arbitration process.

Smith, who captained South Africa in a record 108 Tests from 2003 to 2014, left his role as director of cricket after three years when his contract ended on 31 March.

He was accused in the report of having blocked wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile’s elevation to the South Africa team after Mark Boucher’s career was prematurely ended by an eye injury in July 2012.

Despite not being a specialist keeper, AB de Villiers took up the position in the Test series against England ahead of Tsolekile, who was the reserve keeper in the touring squad.

The arbitrators said there was no evidence of racial bias in this decision or that Smith was racially biased against black leadership at CSA.

They added that Smith’s appointment of Boucher rather than Enoch Nkwe as South Africa head coach in 2019 did not constitute unfair racial discrimination.

The SJN had been looking into alleged discrimination and racism within the national team and the CSA since the readmission of post-apartheid South Africa to international cricket in 1991.

Former wicketkeeper Boucher, who played 147 Tests, 295 one-day internationals and 25 Twenty20 internationals between 1997 and 2012, has been charged with gross misconduct over allegations of racism.

He will face a CSA disciplinary hearing in May.

Smith, who played 117 Tests, 197 ODIs and 33 T20s for South Africa, chose not to reapply for the director of cricket role and the position has since been publicly advertised.

“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,” said CSA board chair Lawson Naidoo.

“His role as the director of cricket has been critical in rebuilding the Proteas men’s team in particular and has laid a solid foundation for his successor.”

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