South Africa in turmoil after sacking selection committee
CAPE TOWN: South African cricket has been plunged into further chaos after the country''s entire selection panel was sacked 24 hours after head coach Mickey Arthur resigned from his post.
Arthur''s sudden departure came amid reports of irrevocable differences with Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, however, others suggested that the uproar was linked to the contentious issue of quotas for more black players in the national team.
Mike Procter, the convenor of selectors, denied any rift in the relationship with the Cricket South Africa (CSA) coaches and said that only the CSA could answer the question of whether quotas and racial transformation of the team was the reason the selectors were fired.
An interim selection committee, which will replace the one led by Procter, comprises Gerald Majola, the CSA chief executive, Corrie van Zyl, the high performance manager, who has also been appointed as interim coach, and former captain Kepler Wessels.
"Gerald Majola called me up and told me that the selection panel was dysfunctional," Procter said. "It was a huge shock to us all.
"He said this selection panel would not be required in future ... I think we had too short a time in the business: as selectors we always gave our own thoughts, we never ended up voting on issues, we talked around issues, we enjoyed each others company and I think we were doing pretty well. The time we had was too short but we did introduce some new players."
Despite the rumours that Arthur resigned after falling out with Smith, the South Africa captain today paid tribute to his former coach. The pair appeared together at a press conference today and at one stage Smith rested his head on Arthur''s shoulder.
"The two of us have had a great partnership over five years, we had a good relationship," Smith said. "Mickey was integral in bringing a lot of calm to the team. Yesterday was a very tough day for us. I think its natural for the players to have some emotion now, Mickey has been part of our life for five years. The players will try and be as professional as possible. We know this is an important tour."
Arthur later blamed "differences" between himself and CSA for his departure. "I''ve decided to resign as I feel it is of the best interests of me and the team," he said. "Differences have arisen between the board of Cricket South Africa and me and I don''t believe I can take the team forward under the present circumstances. There comes a time when you have to move on and I know in my own mind that I''ve taken the right decision."
Craig Matthews, a member of the sacked selection panel, explained that he had not been given a reason for his sacking: "All that was said was that the board felt the selection process was flawed and that they want to restructure it," he said. "It might be a transformation issue, but they didn''t give us any reasons, all they said was that the process needs to be reworked. I have been part of South African cricket for many years, nothing really surprises me anymore."