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CRICKET SOUTH AFRICA

Proteas coach Mark Boucher charged with gross misconduct midway through ODI series

Proteas coach Mark Boucher. (Photo: BackpagePix)
By Craig Ray
20 Jan 2022 25

Mark Boucher faces ‘gross misconduct’ charges relating to incidents that happened more than two decades ago.

If India can’t beat the Proteas, then Cricket South Africa (CSA) might. The sport’s governing body, on the eve of the second One-Day International (ODI) between South Africa and India, publicly announced “gross misconduct” charges against Proteas coach Mark Boucher. 

The announcement, sent by a bungled press release, which was initially headlined “Smith and Boucher suspended,” before being withdrawn, was as badly timed as Virat Kohli’s shot that saw him dismissed in Paarl in the first ODI. 

India leave the country on Monday. Waiting until then to make a public announcement about charges against Boucher would have made no material difference to the situation. But that sensible course of action seemed beyond CSA. 

The timing of the announcement of charges against Boucher was so breathtakingly poor that you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a deliberate ploy to destabilise the team. 

But this is CSA, perhaps the most feckless sporting organisation in existence over the past two years. It has made a sport of boardroom incompetence, as the lust for power by blazered officials has been exposed, one scandal after another. 

The fact that Boucher has been charged is not surprising, even though his right to defend himself is likely to cause far more problems for CSA than good. Boucher will fight the charges with all he has, because quite simply he has no option. The charge sheet liberally brands him as a racist and the only way to partly erase that smear is to face the accusations and accusers head-on. 

Regardless of the eventual outcome though, there are two irrefutable truths that will emerge in the coming weeks and months: Boucher will never fully remove the stain of being charged with racism even if he wins his case, and second, that regardless of the outcome, his job as Proteas coach has become untenable. 

If found guilty he will be instantly dismissed, but if he wins his case, it’s unlikely he would stay on. He would walk away with a big payout for the remainder of his contract. It still has two years to run. 

The knives have been out at CSA board level against Boucher for some time, though. Winning the recent India series only superheated the urgency of many members of the board and CSA Member’s Council to get rid of him. The more successful his team, the more difficult it becomes to remove him. It could possibly explain the timing of publicising the charges against him. 

“The Board remains mindful of its duty to treat allegations of racism or discrimination with the utmost seriousness and in a manner that ensures fairness and due process in terms of South Africa’s Constitution and labour legislation,” CSA board chairman Lawson Naidoo said. 

“It is now up to the inquiry to determine to which extent the allegations are true and justify the need for further disciplinary steps. CSA emphasises that any implicated party will be given a fair opportunity to be heard so that finality can be achieved.” 

The charges

The charges relate to Boucher’s part played in a team song that racially abused former teammate Paul Adams more than 20 years ago. Details of this incident emerged at last year’s Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) hearings and form one leg of the charges against him. 

Boucher never denied them and apologised for his role in that ugly incident. But his apology was criticised in the final SJN report, which itself has been criticised as a flimsy document riddled with errors. 

The other, multilayered charges that CSA has brought against the Proteas coach, who recently oversaw a 2-1 Test series win over the No 1-ranked India, relate to his relationship with former assistant coach Enoch Nkwe. They also relate to his alleged poor handling of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. 

In the seven-page charge sheet sent to Boucher on 17 January, a day before the first ODI against India, he is repeatedly labelled as a “racist”. 

“When dealing with the Black Lives Matter issue and the question of “taking the knee”, you allegedly dealt with the white players’ concerns and requested that the team manager [who is black] deal with the black players’ concerns,” the charge sheet contends. 

“This allegedly created or exacerbated the division and alienated players and the team. You allegedly did not formalise any documented “roles and responsibilities” or meaningful KPIs [key performance indicators] for the assistant coach, Mr Nkwe. 

“You allegedly did not provide any specific or sufficiently specific and defined role for Mr Nkwe and no “personal development plans” were documented or implemented for Mr Nkwe; and you allegedly treated Mr Nkwe in a manner unbecoming of a leader in your position.” 

All these alleged transgressions will be tested under cross-examination. It’s worth noting that Boucher succeeded Nkwe as Proteas coach. Nkwe held the position of interim coach before Boucher was formally appointed by CSA director of cricket Graeme Smith, which could be an underlying source of resentment.

The hearing is likely to be explosive because Boucher will call witnesses from within the team, mostly players, to testify to his management style and the team culture. This is likely to draw Test captain Dean Elgar and ODI captain Temba Bavuma into the firing line. 

The Proteas’ recent performances, where they have shown grit, application and skill, indicate a team that is cohesive and willing to fight for one another. There is no other conclusion to be drawn from their excellent displays. 

Normally, that implies a strong team culture, which is driven by the leadership, of which Boucher is a lynchpin. It’s quite possible, of course, that the team is thriving in spite of the coach, but it’s improbable. 

In response to the charges, Boucher only offered: “I look forward to dealing with and defending these allegations which have been made and will do so at the hearing in due course. For now, I am solely focused on my duties as head coach of the Proteas.” 

(CSA) has appointed advocate Terry Motau (SC) as chairperson of the disciplinary hearing into allegations of misconduct against Boucher. The parties will meet on 26 January 2022 to determine a timetable for the proceedings. 

Flawed SJN?

The legal basis for the charges against Boucher stem from the final SJN report by advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, which was made public last December. 

The 235-page final report was submitted to the CSA board by the Ombudsman on 10 December. It was deeply critical of CSA and senior employees in that it claimed they engaged in prejudicial behaviour. 

It determined that CSA, as well as current CSA director of cricket Graeme Smith and Boucher, and former star batter AB de Villiers, engaged in prejudicial conduct. 

But in an 18-page letter sent to CSA on behalf of several of the respondents, the impartiality, independence and due process of the SJN — which cost CSA R7.5-million over six months — was called into question. 

 “The conclusion that the findings made in the report are ‘tentative’ is concerning. Some of these ‘findings’ are very far-reaching and significant,” the letter stated. 

“Respectfully, how can a finding of racism, for example, be ‘tentative’? Either it is a finding, or it is not a finding. If it is tentative [and if further work is required, as suggested by the Ombudsman in paragraphs 439 and 442 of his report in order to reach ‘appropriate conclusions’], this report ought not to be accepted in its current form.”

In a separate statement, Smith’s lawyer and former head of legal for the International Cricket Council, David Becker, questioned the dual role that lawyers Sandile July and Sandile Tom played. They were both legal advisers to the Ombud and signatories to the complainants’ Heads of Arguments. 

“Questions have been rightfully asked about the dual role that the lawyers for the Ombudsman played, as it turned out that not only did they advise the Ombud, but at the same time drafted and submitted Heads of Argument on behalf of the complainants,” Becker said. 

“The apparent conflict is even more glaring when one considers that more than 250 paragraphs of the complainant’s Heads of Argument have been simply cut and pasted word for word, directly into the Ombudsman’s report. This arguably undermines the independence of the Ombudsman and brings into question the integrity of the report and the process.” DM

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All Comments 25

  • One has to wonder what CSA’s mandate is and who gave it to them. They are certainly doing their best to destroy cricket in this country. I would have thought that Lawson Naidoo was bigger than this but apparently not. Bye bye SA cricket.

    • On the international website Cricinfo, they carry the full story of this action by CSA, as well as the “inquest” that pre-empted this. The story is also carried by many overseas newspapers, with negative comments by many people where this, and other actions by CSA previously. were published on YouTube. Reality is that Cricket South Africa has now suffered irreparable damage because of these actions by CSA. And cricket in South Africa has now became a mockery from a world perspective. A person like Boucher’s reputation is now destroyed, regardless what happens at his hearings. He apologised for perhaps inappropriate comments during his playing career, but I have heard much worse by other international cricketers, like David Warner for example.

      • Coen, it seems to me that they’re judging Boucher’s, and the team’s, actions of twenty or more years ago by today’s standards which are which are far more politically correct. As for that little springkaan – if everybody took every single thing that is said so personally and seriously then we’d all have to zip our lips. And I think if springkaan had spent more time in a provincial setup, at least three years and not just three games, before being elevated to the national team then he would have had time to grow up somewhat and not behave like a baby.

  • Is this how the fifteen-member Board of Directors fulfil their fiduciary responsibilities of pursuing CSA’s mission, namely creating “One Team”?

  • Context is always critical in assessing whether inappropriate language has overt racially discriminatory intent or not. We all can take exception to things people say to us if we have a mind to do so.
    CSA and the complainants have to bring perspective to what happened to stop unnecessary and harmful outcomes for all involved and CSA itself.

  • Can’t really add a comment to an excellent summation by Craig. But the absolute continuation of the absolute incompetence of CSA, and in particular the chairman, is just mind-boggling. Once again, time and time again, their timing of “instructions”, or laying of charges of a senior member of the Proteas, is virtually impossible to understand. I just wonder what the current crop of players think of this new development. Wish some of them, in particular some senior players, like Bavuma, Rabada, or Elgar will make their opinion known, like Quinny. But I guess that they fear it might cost them their careers.

  • The racist card being used again ???
    Read article (not surprisingly in IOL)

    Naidoo and his CSA Board should be shamed

    By Mark Keohane Time of article published Aug 29, 2021

  • Let the person who is 100% non-racist throw the first stone. Boucher has issued an apology and seemed remorseful, what more do they want him to do?

    • They don’t like him because he’s white, despite the fact that he’s been very successful as the Proteas coach. So as usual they pull the racist card.

      I doubt very much that Boucher is racist. I recall that during the so-called Hansiegate affair, he gave Herschel Gibbs very good advice on how to conduct himself during that enquiry.

      The conduct of the CSA board over the past few years has been atrocious. They seem to have done everything in their power to wreck cricket in this country. It’s amazing that the morale of the team hasn’t disintegrated. Really they are a bag of rectums, and nothing but a crock of excrement

      • The one that gets to me is Lawson Naidoo. How weak and wimpish does he have to be to want to ingratiate himself with a bunch of nobodies on the cricket board.

  • 20 Years on and Paul Adams has done nothing about his ‘hurt feelings’? Surely if this was such a large issue in his life he would have / could have taken some form of action prior to this. Did he lodge an objection with the board after he proved his ability and became a fixture in the protea team?
    This is all in bad faith

    • Here is the nuance in the situation. Gary Kirsten and Paul Adams were good buddies. There is always some deliberate breaking down of personal egos to form a solid team.

      I suspect in drunken times that Paul Adams was totally on board with “brown shit”. Perhaps he coined it himself. “Brown shit in the ring, la la la la la”?

      The problem with the CSA’s Spanish inquisition is that they need to find and prosecute people with the mark of the devil.

      I suspect that Paul Adams regrets all of this. But he has no out here. He cannot retract his testimony because he will be twittified.

      Mark Boucher is racist? Show me concrete evidence. On the contrary the team itself seems very secure, and is achieving good results. There is no obvious race issue in the team right now.

      The Spanish inquisition will still come tho, and part of the ANC’s blamestorming of larger scale failures.

      It all sucks big time for the players.

  • As long as whites are in senior positions in CSA they will be targetted. Who are the racists? Remember the last IPL. CSA congratulated Ngidi merely for being in the squad of the team that won the final. Faf Du Plessis – Player of the match – who literally won the match single handidly, was initially ignored by CSA.

  • I was extremely disappointed when one of DM contributors, Judith February, got involved with the disgrace that is CSA. Not sure if she is still on the Board of CSA but I would be interested in hearing from her on where Cricket in South Africa is going. Incidentally, I’ve been and still am a passionate follower of the Proteas having been fortunate to watch them on some of the greatest grounds in the world. Maybe this explains my concerns.

    • And so am I John. Sport is the only thing that still keep me sane in this country where politicians, or whannabee politicians like CSA Board members, keeps on destroying rather than building. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we are denied to support our teams in person. and has to rely on the often extreme bias or inappropriate comments by some commentators (some adding their own political views) whilst watching on TV. Our sportsmen and women, unlike in most other countries, are/were subjected to the worse of preparation conditions (living in a bubble), and reflected in the poor performance of our athletes at the Japanese Olympics. School sport has virtually died, hence the poor performance of our younger sport stars

  • This cricket board is starting to resemble the state capture boards of Eskom and Prasa. I have not read this article, simply because the title implies an impossibility. How is one guilty of misconduct in your post, if you weren’t in the post in the first place.

    The concept that only one race can be guilty of racism is flawed.

  • Starts with forced political adherence – taking the knee. Ends with eradication of anyone with the wrong complexion.

    The naxis were very good at this game. Great to see the Daily Mail happily being on ‘the right side of history’.

    It’s fun being an old man. We see patterns repeating.

  • Apparently CSA now has Graeme Smith in its sights.

    Because Graeme Smith hired Mark Boucher, and the touch of the devil is transitive – or infectious if you’re not a nerd.

    Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher are true legends of South African cricket. Jacques Kallis was too, but his appointment as batting coach was deemed too white.

    While I’m a huge fan of Ashwell Prince, according to my skin, and would love him to be involved, it’s just churlish of CSA to deliberately remove true legends from the SA cricket structure.

    It smells of personal beef – Mark Kehoane?

  • From Mark Kehoane:

    “The charge-sheet reads brutally: ‘Having had your racist and/or offensive and/or inappropriate utterances drawn to your attention, you failed to adequately and/or sufficiently and/or appropriately apologise for these utterances and/or acknowledge the racist nature of these utterances and/or the hurt that they caused; and/or … you have conducted yourself in a racist or subliminally racist manner by failing to acknowledge the impact of your conduct towards Mr Adams thereby exacerbating the offence of racism, bearing in mind your current position as the coach of the national team, which places you in a position of leadership and responsibility.’”

    So while Boucher was busy achieving some decent results with the SA cricket team, he is being accused of being insufficiently anti-racist. Maybe Mark Boucher just couldn’t be bothered. If it’s really a big issue for Paul Adams then why hasn’t he reached out? “Waiting for a phone call”? No sorry, it’s not important to me (Boucher).

    “Boucher is also accused of only wanting to deal with the white players concerns on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) issue of taking the knee and creating division and alienating players and the team by requesting the black manager deal with black players.”

    Y’all know that anti-racist doctrine requires safe spaces for PoC’s like me to vent and share? So Mark is now guilty of being a good anti-racist?

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    What do the players think about their coach?

  • Kindly let those ego-driven cricket executives of CSA who are accusing Boucher of this that and the other on the eve of a super important cricket tour to New Zealand know that they are defining themselves by the memory of the past. This is why it is all ego-driven. Time to move 0n. What we believed yesterday does not work today. We f-cked up, of course. Is there anyone out there who hasn’t? We are making good now, so leave Boucher to do what he knows is best for his team and our beloved country.

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