Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat allegedly told Proteas coach Russell Domingo, via an SMS, to drop a white player, just hours before South Africa were due to face New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final.
Netwerk24 reports that Lorgat sent a text message to Domingo at 01:00 local time the morning of the game, telling him to pick an extra player of colour in the team.
Lorgat allegedly told Domingo to choose between dropping Rilee Rossouw and picking Farhaan Behardien, or dropping Kyle Abbott and picking Vernon Philander.
Domingo and De Villiers wanted Abbott to play, but Lorgat refused to sign off on the team if there were only three players of colour – Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and Imran Tahir – in the team.
After discussing the issue at length with captain AB de Villiers, they decided to keep Rossouw and drop Abbott.
De Villiers and Philander were furious and threatened not to play the game, but they were forced to. South Africa lost the semi-final by four wickets.
Lorgat denied the claims, saying there wasn’t and isn’t any political interference in the choosing of the team.
He previously said: ‘There was and is no political interference in our selections. I’ve never heard any nonsense like that in my entire tenure as team administrator. I was at the World Cup, I was in the vicinity of the team and there was absolutely no interference from the minister.’
CSA president Chris Nenzani has said on the issue: ‘I have not in the past interfered with the selection of the team and I do not intend to do so in the future. We have always emphasised that national team selection must be on merit.’
Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula was quick to respond himself. ‘The team selection has got nothing to do with the minister and the minister had no space to make such calls of who must and must not be selected. I support all the boys, those who were selected and not selected and those who were not given an opportunity,’ he said.
This scandal follows the news that Cricket South Africa (CSA) have decided that every franchise must increase the number of players of colour to six, and ensure that three are black African in the new season (2015-16), increasing the quota by one.
Every franchise in South Africa is to get a one-off payment of R350 000 to pay for the extra black players demanded by CSA in their new quotas directive.
Teams playing in all semi-professional matches will stay at the current requirement of least six players of colour and a minimum of three black African players.
Earlier, the South African Cricketers’ Association had considered legal action because, they said, there had been no consultation, and they were concerned about the financial effect of recruiting extra players at such a late stage, after contracts had been finalised.