CSA deny 'malicious' Smith rumours
Cricket South Africa has denied "malicious" and "damaging" allegations that skipper Graeme Smith was ready to quit the national team over the possible selection of a black player for the ongoing Test series against India.
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CSA released a statement on Saturday night to "quash rumours and comments floating around social media platforms" that suggested Smith was unhappy about the possibility of wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile being called up.
"There is no truth at all to these malicious and damaging comments," CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat said in a statement.
"All selection procedures and protocols were followed in the selection of the squad and the playing XI and were signed off by myself and transformation manager, Max Jordaan.
"As per CSA's selection policy, the captain is not involved in selection."
Lorgat's comments come after he had been asked by South Africa's sports ministry to clarify the rumours which circulated before the start of the first Test in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
The Minister of Sport and Recreation South Africa, Fikile Mbalula, was reportedly questioned about the claim during a live radio interview before the clarification was sought.
Mbalula added his voice to the CSA statement, backing Smith and his team to push for victory and ignore the allegations at a time the 'transformative agenda' for South African sporting teams is in the spotlight.
"Cricket, like all sporting codes in the country, is working towards a transformative agenda," Mbalula said.
"We have already stated that in 2014 we will release the work of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Transformation.
"We will, therefore, not be side-tracked by malicious people during this time of an important match for the nation.
"To Graeme and the boys I say: focus your energies on winning this Test match."
Tsolekile had been in the frame to make his Test return at the Wanderers, after playing the last of this three Tests against England in 2004.
The 33-year-old was not selected in the XI, however, with AB de Villiers used in a wicketkeeper-batsman role.
South Africa head into the final day on Sunday looking to save the Test match at 138 for two after being set an unlikely victory target of 458.