Mark Boucher, former South African wicket-keeper and their current coach, has opened up about the allegations strapped on him of being discriminatory and concocting offensive names to rile up his fellow team-mates.
He was heard quoting that these mishaps happened due to a shortage of maturity and consciousness, and it seemed a lot more stinging in those times because South Africa had just thrown away Apartheid and was struggling vehemently to battle the remnants of this evil practice.
Going by ESPN Cricinfo’s reports, Boucher submitted a 14-page affidavit to South Africa’s Social Justice and Nation Building Committee that comprised a “general response” to allegations of him being involved in racial discriminations.
This is what Mark Boucher had to say about his actions:
He has also confessed to preparing a second affidavit and answering specifics of the case. Mark also opened the door to any cricketer who would actually want to have a one-on-one discussion with him regarding his discriminatory behaviour.
As Boucher’s submission of affidavit addressed the broader issues, Paul Adams commented that he was called ‘brown s***’ by his teammates in the late 90s.
Mark confirmed that Paul Adams’ derogatory nickname was used in the team meetings and even uttered during victory celebrations, but he didn’t give that name to him.
However, he also confirmed that he was a part of a gang that sang a song which involved calling Adams as ‘brown s***’ and this practice was “totally inappropriate, unacceptable and in retrospect, understandably offensive.”
He also cited, “I deeply regret and apologise for the part I played in joining in with my team-mates in singing offensive songs or using offensive nicknames.”
Paul Adams, Roger Telemachus, Loots Bosman and Ashwell Prince spoke of a team culture that was evidently supportive of discrimination.
Boucher’s statement also read, “We were not only naive, but were also ill-equipped to deal with the new environment in which we found ourselves.”
He continued, “To my certain knowledge there had not been any briefing or discussion by CSA as to how we deal with the legacy of Apartheid, how players and management should deal with the additional pressures placed on them by the country and the media, how we ensure that there is equality, respect, empathy and inclusiveness in the team. There was no guidance, no culture discussions, no open foray and no-one appointed by CSA to deal with awkwardness or questions or pressures that were being experienced by the players and, in particular, by the players of colour.”
He also remarked that how things have changed over the past years and now the nation and the team members are much more inclusive with a major change of stance happening after the Black Lives Matter movement.
In fact, according to him, he has also been a part of several meaningful and intense workshops that have taught him “to create an atmosphere of inclusiveness and a culture of respect and empathy between all players.”
Temba Bavuma, South Africa’s white ball captain, spoke how the team is now being built on tenets of inclusivity, which is exactly the opposite of what Telemachus and company stated during their times.
Bosman, Prince, Telemachus and Adams described a culture where white team members made the team. However, Boucher said that there definitely was a posse of white cricketers, but it never impacted team selection.
Boucher also penned, “It is unfortunate that the group of players that became the senior Protea players in my playing career and who spent time together have been portrayed in the hearings by some witnesses as a cynical clique who were involved in selection. This is simply not true.”
Mark Boucher concluded by saying, “It is unfair to say, without any substantiating evidence, that this clique in any way undermined the values, culture or performance of the team or was involved in selection.”
He also urged his selectors to be a lot more transparent about the selection criterion so that it wouldn’t add to the already heightened anxiety that a player has to go through before taking the field.