Less than a week before he was due to appear for formal disciplinary hearings, former South Africa wicketkeeper-batter Mark Boucher has been relieved of all the charges of misconduct from his playing days and his tenure as head coach.
In a massive u-turn, Cricket South Africa will no longer be seeking his dismissal from the men’s head coach’s post after tentative findings of differential behaviour and alleged racial misconduct against him in the Social Justice and Nation-Building committee report.
Boucher has been “formally and unreservedly” relieved in the matter even as SJN hearings and report labelled allegations of misbehaviour and racial discrimination as a player and of misusing his powers in head coach’s capacity against the black South African players.
CSA, which was eyeing Boucher’s removal on the basis of these charges, now finds them no longer sustainable after Paul Adams, the former wristspinner, who had claimed the ex keeper’s involvement in coining the contentious nickname “brown s*#@” for him in a team song, declared he will not be appearing to testify at the hearings.
Even Enoch Nkwe, whom Boucher had pipped in the race to bag the head coach’s position under then director of cricket Graeme Smith, has decided not to appear before the CSA to testify the racism claims against him. Smith, who was facing charges of differential behaviour for appointing Boucher above Nkwe, was recently cleared on all counts in the arbitration process.
Nkwe got the assistant coach’s post soon, but his relationship with the man at the helm became one of the charges labelled against Boucher, who was also under scrutiny for misconduct against Adams and being part of a “broader group” that nicknamed him “brown s*@#” and sang the demeaning song against him.
Apart from this, Boucher was facing question marks for the way the global ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign has been handled by the Proteas in his tenure, with some players refusing to take the knee – a gesture in support of the great movement – until CSA made it necessary at the start of the T20 World Cup.
Since the CSA regime could not find serious evidence to back these tentative allegations in the SJN report, the board, as advised by the external lawyers, was told “that the appropriate formal process to follow in respect of Mr Boucher was a formal disciplinary hearing in front of an independent ombudsman.”
But with no proper evidence available or witnesses, CSA could not sustain those charges against Boucher and had to let him go and continue in the head coach’s role until the end of his four-year term next year.
Despite the unveiling of a historical set of episodes and SJN allegations against him, things were looking bright for Boucher from Sunday (May 8) when Adams confirmed in a statement that he wouldn’t be testifying against his former teammate.
Adams said his testimony was intended to seek learnings from the past mistakes within the dressing room atmosphere and improve the “overall culture” of the side from how it was in the 1990s and early 2000s when he played. He also mentioned that at no stage he wanted to single out Boucher as the culprit.
It was Adams who had revealed the “brown s*#@” nickname given to him and the team song that Boucher was involved in during his testimony at the SJN hearings.
ESPNcricinfo reported, when Fumisa Ngqele, the assistant of the ombudsman, asked him, “when Mark Boucher called you “b**** s***, did you address him personally?” Adams responded in the negative. He stated, “No, well, I never addressed them personally. Mark was probably just one of the guys that did all that.”