Former South African pacer Lonwabo Tsotsobe has alleged that Graeme Smith ‘threatened to quit’ if Thami Tsolekile succeeded Mark Boucher, and has claimed that Smith used his power to make AB de Villiers the Test side’s wicket-keeper. Tsolekile, in 2012, was in line to take over from Boucher.
Allegations against Graeme Smith, of alleged discrimination, have resurfaced as former Protea fast bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who played under the leadership of Smith, has claimed that the former South Africa skipper exercised his power to stop Thami Tsolekile from succeeding Mark Boucher as the wicket-keeper of the South African Test side.
A horror accident in a warm-up game against Somerset in 2012, prior to a Test series against England, ended Mark Boucher’s Test career and with Tsolekile being the specialist wicket-keeper in the squad, the then 32-year-old, who by then was a veteran in South African cricket, was primed to take over the gloves for the Proteas. However, the visitors sprung a surprise by instead handing over the gloves to AB de Villiers, who’d only kept wickets in Tests thrice, prior to the series.
Tsotsobe has now dropped a bombshell as the former pacer has alleged that Smith did not want to see Tsolekile in the XI and threatened to quit if the wicket-keeper made his way into the side.
“Tsolekile was destined to replace Boucher‚ but suddenly AB de Villiers was made the keeper. Wicketkeeper is a specialist position that needed a specialist of which De Villiers is not. The idea of assigning keeping duties to De Villiers was to block the selection of a black player in the fold of Tsolekile,” TimesLive.quoted Tsotsobe as saying in a submission to the office of the Cricket South Africa (CSA) SJN transformation ombudsman.
“This was confirmed by Smith who categorically stated that if Tsolekile was selected he would retire with immediate effect.”
Notably, allegations of discrimination had emerged against Smith last year too, with Tsolekile himself claiming publicly that the former Proteas skipper unfairly curtailed his career. Tsolekile played 3 Tests for the Proteas in 2004, but the wicket-keeper, along with several others, was handed a 12-year-ban in 2016 by Cricket South Africa (CSA) for ‘"contriving to fix" matches in the 2015 Ram Slam. Incidentally, Tsotsobe also was found guilty in the same scandal and was handed an 8-year-ban by the board.