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Why Paul Adams was right to withdrawal from Mark Boucher’s disciplinary

Gert Bam writes that reducing racism in sport through a disciplinary process against one individual by attempting to use the innocent reflection of another individual, like Paul, is denying and failing to address systemic issues. File picture: Thomas Holder/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Gert Bam writes that reducing racism in sport through a disciplinary process against one individual by attempting to use the innocent reflection of another individual, like Paul, is denying and failing to address systemic issues. File picture: Thomas Holder/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published May 12, 2022

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By Gert Bam

Paul Adams’s withdrawal from the process initiated by Cricket South Africa (CSA) against the national coach, Mark Boucher, leading to CSA reconsidering the disciplinary process and then announcing the withdrawal of the charges against Mark Boucher, has elicited various responses on social media and other platforms.

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In a country so divided at all levels with the sporting fraternity being no exception, this situation requires sober reflection.

The irony of this entire process is that the commission was named the Social Justice and Nation Building enquiry into racism in cricket.

However, the net result was anything but social justice, let alone nation building.

Initiating disciplinaries based on the reflections of individuals like Paul Adams at this commission in itself can be interpreted as a total contradiction and undermining of the process, let alone questioning the legal basis for a successful disciplinary, especially when the organisation retains the services of the national coach on international tours subsequent to the “tentative” findings of the commission being published.

I believe this is due to the short sightedness of wanting to achieve quick wins in complex societal challenges through what Amilcar Cabral warns against when he stated that in the struggle for equality and in this case the struggle against racism we should not attempt to “claim easy victories”.

Reducing racism in sport through a disciplinary process against one individual by attempting to use the innocent reflection of another individual, like Paul, is denying and failing to address the systemic issues that confront sports administration in this country.

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It is a sad day in sport when a commission with so much potential results merely in a disciplinary against two individuals, who have in their own right made and continue to make an enormous contribution to cricket in this country.

So, what should have been a unifying initiative has turned out to be hugely embarrassing for CSA with them having to pay half of Boucher’s legal fees.

It begs the question whether there is justification in the notion that this was merely an attempt (albeit a very poor one) by what is regarded as the new cabal in cricket to get rid of Boucher and Smith.

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I believe Paul’s statement deserves a far more serious reflection on the challenges facing sport and society in relation to racism. At the time when Paul came on to the club, international and provincial scene, I was involved at the administrative level having been the manager of youth cricket in the unified Western Province Cricket Association after the unification process and interacting at a national level with comrades like Khaya Majola , Hoosian Ayob and Rushdi Majiet and many others.

I believe I can speak with authority about the context of that period and the experiences we had together with the challenges of organising sport in a young democracy where administrators and players came from virtually opposite poles and had to then create the environment for the sport to develop into a nation building process.

Of course, the process of creating the conditions for a sport to develop as a national sport is never a linear process of development. There are always bends in the long road of history and the decisions we make, and strategies employed can easily be dissected and criticised in hindsight. It is in this context that I believe Paul should be commended for taking this decision not to be used by CSA in their quest to play to the gallery.

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Paul is one of our icons in the sport of cricket and for some short-sighted commentators to accuse him of “not having the balls to follow through and be a witness in this disciplinary” is a bit disingenious to say the least.

Rather it is CSA that does not have the strategic balls to use the sport in a way which will fight racism in a sustainable manner rather than thinking they will achieve this through grandstanding and playing to the gallery.

We must avoid being judgmental in this situation especially to somebody who has contributed immensely to both nation building as well as the game in relation to changing the attitude to spin bowling in the selection of our national teams.

In conclusion, I believe that with the inept management of this process, CSA has lost an ideal opportunity to use their sport to contribute to nation building in this country.

The war against racism is a never-ending societal challenge simply because the concept of a united South African nation is still a distant notion. It is not won simply by focusing on one individual in a disciplinary process.

* Gert Bam is the former director of the City's sports and recreation department, and an administrator with Western Province Cricket.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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