Boucher wins, Adams loses in the SJN saga


There is racism in South African cricket because racism exists in South Africa. © Getty

Paul Adams did not attend the Social Justice and Nation Building (PPL) hearings to be named. His testimony was not about individuals or the actions of individuals. What he said was not a spaced jaw deployed in a witch hunt. It was a plea for understanding and education.

And an alarm about the devastating fire that has always been burning in South Africa’s wardrobe. To think it was shut down because the CSA dropped a disciplinary lawsuit against Mark Boucher after losing their arbitration case against Graeme Smith last month is to pour gasoline on the fire.

Adams’ confirmation, in a statement on Sunday, that he will not testify at Boucher’s hearing does not change that. There is racism in South African cricket because racism exists in South Africa. Only a sincere focus on eradicating racism in cricket, and our wider society, can change that. Only racists would disagree.

If Adams expected the locker room to be a refuge from the white world of supremacy right in front of the door, he was sadly naive. Instead, his teammates belittled him as “brown shit” during fines meetings to, of all things, help celebrate the victories.

The abuse did not end with Adams. Boucher was called “wit naai” – “white je ** k” – in the same locker room. And now the red-haired team members are being told by teammates of all races that “gingerbread has no soul”. How might Heinrich Klaasen and Kyle Verreynne feel about it?

But Boucher, Klaasen, and Verreynne emerge from the locker room and return to whiteness, where they are readily accepted as first-class citizens solely on the basis of their whiteness. Adams returns to whiteness as just another brown person, and so is the target of racism, prejudice, injustice, and conscious and unconscious bias. If he were black, his fate would be even worse. This remains almost as true in 2022 as in 1992, when South Africa played its first test after readmission.

Adams made his debut almost two years before Boucher and played 18 games for South Africa before this one played its first. Thus the insult was no doubt applied to Adams before Boucher heard it and participated in it. Adams played 69 internationals, of whom South Africa won 37. Many times you can hear them describe you as “brown shit”.

Boucher played in 25 of those wins. The last of these was at Lord’s in 2003, when he hit 68 with 51 balls, and Adams took Andrew Flintoff’s big wicket and sealed his inning success and 92 rounds. Makhaya Ntini scored 10 goals, and Graeme Smith scored 259 as captain in just his fourth game – following his 277 in the first test in Edgbaston. It is shocking to know that this great day in the history of South African cricket ended with the players calling each other derogatory names.

Adams was 63rd for the national team and 217th for Boucher. At that stage of their careers – Adams was almost eight years international and Boucher almost six years old – weren’t they old enough to raise their voices against such blatant misconduct? It’s not that simple.

Adams was just under a month old from his 19th birthday when he first donned a South African hat, no doubt with great pride. Boucher was less than two months old before he turned 21 when he did the same, no doubt with identical feelings. Adams and Boucher were young, impressive people pushed into a poisonous environment. In order to be accepted, they had to follow the leadership of those who were already there – who themselves had inherited the tradition of the past, no matter how wrong and harmful it may have been. It’s not like the incoming players have a choice: here’s the culture, learn it or go home. Again, it’s not that simple.

The new dawn of South Africa on the road to democracy was achieved under Nelson Mandela on April 27, 1994, when the first real elections were held in the country. That is the reason why South Africans have the privilege of playing international sports. Cleaning up toxic crops is the least that teams could do as a thank you for being given that privilege. But first they must understand and accept that culture is poisonous.

As this did not happen in this case the indictment is for each player who was part XI of the readmission. This is even more true for those who have had significant careers, and especially for white players – as leaders in the prevailing power dynamics, they themselves have been able to influence real change.

When Adams testified at the PPC on July 22 last year, not enough progress was made in the area. The measure for this was the lack of white witnesses at the hearings who would refute the allegations against them or apologize. Jacques Faul, CEO of Titan, was a significant exception. Boucher, like Smith, instead decided to limit his participation to a written submission imbued with lawyer’s humorous words and what was going on.

Although Boucher spent a good portion of his 14-page submission apologizing and illustrating how he had invested in working on a better culture, he still seemed withdrawn and without the sense of hurt he was accused of. Had he or his lawyers respected and trusted the SJN enough to have Boucher appear in person – to present himself as having sinned and sinned against a man – he might never have been charged.

Leaving his fate to the SJN report was a serious mistake. Dumisa Ntsebeza skillfully and warmly chaired the hearings. Clearly, he didn’t know much about cricket. Equally clear, it didn’t matter. Indeed, this was one of the reasons for hope: in a game that passed with opposing goals, he betrayed none. But Ntsebeza should be ashamed of the report that resulted. Adams has every right to feel offended and betrayed.

The SJN report quotes Adams as saying: “The fact that my teammates called me ‘brown shit’ about 20 years ago while I was playing still resonates in my memories. I remember Mark Boucher calling me by that name in particular and to be used as a song to meet the fines for me … ‘Brown shit in the ring, tra-la-la-la-la’ Yes, I spent the time of my life playing for my country and was one of the first black players to they represented their country so I rejected that and focused on my game because I didn’t intend to let these racists influence my way of thinking.I already knew then that what was going on was wrong.But there was no one to talk to or support the player who spoke like my black friends, give up and let it go. ”

What Adams’ submission actually says is, “The fact that my teammates called me ‘brown shit’ some 20 years ago while I was playing still resonates in my memories. I remember a few players calling me by that name and using it as fines meeting song for me … ‘Brown shit in the ring, tra-la-la-la … “. Yes, I spent the time of my life playing for my country and was one of the first black players to represent my country so I rejected that and focused on my game because I didn’t intend to let these racists influence my way of thinking. I already knew then that what was happening was wrong. But there was no one to talk to or support the player who spoke up, so I, like my fellow black friends, shrugged and let it go. ”

Note the absence of Boucher’s name in the original version, as presented by Adams. Nowhere in his written submission of more than 4,000 words does he mention Boucher. Fumisa Ngqele, an advocate helping Ntsebezi, interrupted Adams as he prepared to move on to part of his testimony dealing with his coaching career and said, “Mr. Adams, may I just step in. When Mark Boucher called you ‘brown shit,’ yes. have you ever addressed him personally? ” Adams ’response was that he hadn’t addressed the issue with Boucher and that“ Mark was probably just one of the guys ”who used an offensive term.

That doesn’t change the fact that Boucher had a case to answer. But this means that the PPL report cannot be trusted to make the case fair and accurate. And that, with Adams saying he was pleased with Boucher’s apology and would not testify at the disciplinary hearing, the CSA case – already shaky when Enoch Nkwe, another potentially important witness, indicated he would also not appear at the hearing – was dead in water .

The CSA board, which should be remembered to have inherited the PPL and its bad report from the previous board, did the right thing by pulling the plug. Just as they did the right thing by calling for a debate: accusations of racist behavior by employees cannot be ignored. Those who call for leaders to roll at the board level either don’t live in the real world of due process, or have an unfair grinding ax.

There was more from Adams on July 22 last year, much full of wisdom and meaning: “I point out that this should never happen. And if we take this forward in the right way, we will have a lot more respect for each other. should come and say sorry.Maybe that’s all that needs to happen.But it shouldn’t be pushed under the rug.If we want our teams within the CSA to have the right ethics, the right mentality, the right respect for each other, we should broadcast these things.

“No one is going to come here and sweep things under the rug. So I gathered the courage to come talk about it today. It took me a long time to be here and dig up some of those memories. I felt a lot of emotion. We’re not here to break the whole system. We’re here to build a better structure, a better way forward. ”

Unfortunately, the SJN report is that awful carpet. Adams’ courage and emotion will be remembered for a long time, but it’s hard not to feel that they are spent.

© Cricbuzz

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