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White-Ball Series

Proteas Needs the Eternal Mind of Tabraiz Shamsi

When South Africa left for Sri Lanka, they may have thought they were leaving the turmoil of the previous few weeks behind them. They instead took it with them.

“On the flight to Colombo, I was sad to be leaving my family,” Tabraiz Shamsi, who had “two or three days at home” after returning from playing in The Hundred, said in an audio file CSA released. “But it’s just something different when you’re playing for South Africa. It made me smile in between all the turbulence and me sweating and holding onto my seat.”

Rain Showers Greeted South Africans

After safely returning to solid, unmoving earth, the South Africans were greeted by rain, which has continued to fall and may still affect the six white-ball games scheduled through September 14. Despite this, the visitors will choose a bumpy flight and bad weather over the ructions that have ripped through the game in the aftermath of the Social Justice and Nation-building (SJN) hearings.

It’s not often that a team prefers to play away from home, especially in conditions that are opposed to what they’re used to. South Africa, on the other hand, is undoubtedly relieved to be anywhere other than home.

The SJN has revealed disturbing tendencies in the culture that was allowed to grow in the dressing room and on the field in the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s in hearings that began on July 5. Accounts of racist behavior by white players toward black teammates at various levels of the game have shattered the illusion of unity.

Some of those players are now involved in coaching and administration. Mark Boucher, a 147-Test veteran, and now South Africa’s coach has been implicated at the SJN and, as a result, has become a lightning rod for rage.

South Africa’s Improved Attitudes

Boucher apologized profusely in a 14-page submission to the SJN, and as a coach, he oversees South Africa’s improved attitudes toward including players of different races in their squad. But that hasn’t stopped a petition calling for his removal and a #BoucherOut Twitter campaign from targeting him.

The resignation of Enoch Nkwe, South Africa’s assistant coach, days before the squad’s departure, ostensibly due to dissatisfaction with his relatively minor role, was a devastating blow. Normally, the departure of an assistant coach would garner little attention. However, these are not ordinary times.

Now is as black as Boucher is white, and while no evidence has emerged that race was a factor in Nkwe’s unhappiness, it wasn’t long before that narrative took flight.

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