Mark Boucher may be a ’prick’ but that doesn't necessarily make him a racist

Proteas coach Mark Boucher. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Proteas coach Mark Boucher. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Jan 26, 2022


I recently stumbled upon an article that was published back in 2005 in the United Kingdom's Independent newspaper. It was written by their cricket correspondent Stephen Brenkley which related to the recall of Mark Boucher to the Proteas Test side for the 2004-05 home series against England.

Boucher had, of course, been dropped for the previous away series against India after 75 successive Tests for Thami Tsolekile - the first Black African Proteas wicket-keeper - who was later replaced by a young AB de Villiers keeping Boucher on the sidelines during the first three England Tests.

But that wasn't what caught my eye but rather the reasons Brenkley put forward for Boucher's axing.

"Complacency and arrogance after an unbroken run of six years, the need to meet an unofficial quota of non-white players and, least attractive of all for conspiracy theorists, his poor batting form," wrote Brenkley.

ALSO READ: Mark Boucher to meet disciplinary hearing chair Terry Motau on Wednesday

The fact that Boucher only scored 116 runs at average of 16.57 in six Tests from 16 January until 11 August 2004 was supposedly not justification enough for him to be dropped.

He went further by stating that "Boucher's initial exclusion followed widely leaked rumours that he was a disruptive influence in the dressing-room and part of a clique which thought itself pretty much untouchable."

Remember this was written back in 2005 - 16 years before Cricket SA's Social Justice and Nation Building hearings were conducted where all these "rumours" and more came to fore once again.

Boucher's response to these allegations at the time were "As far as I was concerned everything was fine in the dressing-room. There have been a lot of reports that this and that happened, but as far as I can remember it was OK."

Like it was "OK" to sing a song that referred to black player Paul Adams as a "brown shit".

Furthermore Brenkley highlights a meeting held between Boucher and then Cricket SA chief executive Gerald Majola after he was dropped.

The blasphemy of the entire episode is pointed out when Brenkley frankly states "Imagine a dropped England player, no matter how established, going to Lord's to talk about his future with the head of the England and Wales Cricket Board."

It is then when it hit me stone cold between the eyes that it's not Boucher’s fault that he behaved like a spoilt brat in the past, but rather the fact it was Cricket SA that fostered a culture where certain players were afforded greater privileges than others.

ALSO READ: ’Mark Boucher only dealt with white players’ concerns during BLM issue’ - Cricket South Africa charge sheet

That's the equivalent of a mother crying with her head in her hands for her delinquent adult son's behavior after spoiling him throughout his formative years.

I am by no means excusing Boucher's past behavior and his role in the alleged racist culture that existed in a previous Proteas era, but he is deserving of not being subjected to a kangaroo trial when he and his representatives meet with Advocate Terry Motau on Wednesday to thrash out the timetable for the legal proceedings related to racial allegations levelled against him.

There are also blatant lies floating around which state that "all Adams wanted was a call to apologize" and why has Boucher not been able to humble himself to make the call to his former teammate.

I am fully aware that Boucher has tried to call Adams without any success. What he was actually going to say I am not sure of.

ALSO READ: Mark Boucher looks forward to dealing with racism allegations

And perhaps call me naive, but in the same 2005 article Boucher was quoted saying "You get a chance to reflect when you're out of the side and the system. There's a lot of things I've tried to change personally and in my game and in the way I look at cricket as a whole."

The change can be witnessed in the fact that Boucher has apologized on the record for his role in demeaning Adams as a human being.

And while no apology should ever be lauded and the apologist morphed into the victim, Boucher still remains the only white ex-player that has publicly displayed any form of remorse and that needs to be acknowledged.

It is not for me to sit here and judge whether Mark Verdon Boucher should continue in his role as Proteas coach due to the skeletons of his past - that's Advocate Motau's duty.

I can, however, say that even though Boucher was once described as "a prick" in an article in the New Zealand Herald it does not necessarily make him a racist.


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ProteasMark Boucher