New Zealand in SA

Smith shrugs off race issue

2013-01-11 07:38
Graeme Smith (AFP)
Cape Town - Proteas skipper Graeme Smith says recent rumblings in the boardroom regarding the number of black players in the team won't unsettle them.

Convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson on Wednesday had to explain himself to the board of Cricket South Africa (CSA) for the way in which the selectors handled wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile. The Highveld Lions wicketkeeper was given a national contract last year and was assured he would be given an opportunity in the Test side during the current series against New Zealand.

Instead, Tsolekile was dropped from the squad, having not been given an opportunity to play a single Test on tours of England and Australia, with key batsman AB de Villiers being entrusted with the gloves as the current successor to Mark Boucher.

"Andrew Hudson was invited to address us and he explained the selectors' thinking in detail," acting CSA president Willie Basson, told SAPA.

"After a long and intensive debate, he left more enlightened and informed about what is required from the selectors in terms of transformation. He has been sensitised to make sure the selectors deal with transformation in the most appropriate way in future."

Basson also confirmed that a mandatory number of black African players was being considered by CSA for franchise and national teams.

"The target at the moment is four blacks for franchise and national teams, but a stipulation for black Africans will be coming as part of the strategy of the transformation committee," Basson said.

But Smith assured fans his side will remain focused on the task at hand as they prepare to face New Zealand in the second Test, starting in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

"It's not a distraction because Gary (Kirsten, Proteas coach) has always communicated clearly with Thami," Smith told the Beeld website.

"He knows where he stands with us, but I can't say what the selectors may or may not have told him."

Smith said the current South African team has walked "a very long road" when it comes to transformation.

"It's fantastic to finally be able to say every player in the team is there on merit - and nobody is asking anymore why Hashim Amla of Robin Peterson gets picked," said Smith.

"Transformation is an ongoing process and we'll always keep searching for the next Makhaya Ntini, Lonwabo Tsotsobe or Thami at first class level.”

The Test at St George's Park starts at 10:30 on Friday. The Proteas won the first Test in Cape Town by an innings and 27 runs.

Teams:

South Africa:
Graeme Smith (captain), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (wicketkeeper), Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Rory Kleinveldt, Morne Morkel

New Zealand (from):
Brendon McCullum (captain), Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Dean Brownlie, Daniel Flynn, BJ Watling (wicketkeeper), Colin Munro, Doug Bracewell, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Jeetan Patel, Bruce Martin

Umpires: Ian Gould (ENG), Kumar Dharmasena (SRI)
TV umpire: Rod Tucker (AUS)
Match referee: David Boon (AUS)

Read more on:    proteas  |  nz in sa  |  graeme smith  |  cricket
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