Former Proteas wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile. Picture: Kirsty Wigglesworth
Former Proteas wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile. Picture: Kirsty Wigglesworth

Thami Tsolekile says Graeme Smith is in denial, seeks apology

By Zaahier Adams Time of article published Aug 14, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - The on-going media spat between former Proteas wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile and former national captain Graeme Smith has reached a crossroads.

Tsolekile, who is currently serving a 12-year ban for match-fixing, believes Smith owes him an apology for the way he was treated during his time with the Proteas.

Tsolekile has been relentless in his criticism of Smith on Robert Marawa’s Marawa Sport Worldwide radio show for the past week, appearing three times in eight days.

Prior to the last show on Thursday evening, Smith responded with a statement of his own on social media detailing his duties and responsibilities while Proteas captain. He also responded directly to Tsolekile’s alleged mistreatment.

"Listening to him (Smith) and his statement, he doesn't want to accept anything ... excuses and he's in denial," Tsolekile said.

"I'm very disappointed. The least I would've accepted from Graeme Smith is: 'Thami Tsolekile, I'm sorry.' And then we'll move on."

The central point of difference at the moment is the handling of Tsolekile on the 2012 tour of England, where the Proteas were crowned No 1 in the world after winning the series 2-0 at Lord’s.

"In case of the 2012 tour to England, which Thami has alluded to, there was a whole panel of selectors," Smith explained.

"Thami was in the squad as reserve keeper to AB de Villiers and this was communicated to him on both the England and Australian tours by Gary Kirsten, which has been previously acknowledged by Thami."

Cricket South Africa’s director of cricket and former Proteas captain Graeme Smith. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix.

Tsolekile, however, claims this was not the case.

"It's a lie. They picked Mark Boucher as a keeper and I was told I was the reserve keeper," he said.

Although Smith did not offer up an apology, he understood that Tsolekile could have been left frustrated with the situation.

"Unfortunately, Thami was a wicketkeeper, which meant he was only ever fighting for one position," Smith said.

"I can understand how frustrating that must have been, and there have been several other excellent wicketkeepers that South African cricket never saw on an international stage, because ’keepers tend to stay in a team for long periods of time."

The entire situation has certainly left Tsolekile with indelible scars as he even sought the intervention of the then Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula when he was at his lowest point.

Unfortunately for Tsolekile the meeting never took place as Mbalula was not in the country at the time.

"He could've come and listened to my cries, and I could have told him why I deserved to play," Tsolekile said on Thursday.

"I went into my [hotel] room and looked at the roof ... if there was a cord there, maybe I would've committed suicide."

Smith currently serves as Cricket SA’s Director of Cricket and has been summoned to meet with a group of 40 black former Proteas and coaches to determine the path forward for South African cricket in a manner that inculcates anti-racism, non-racialism, equality and accountability and excellence from all involved.

@ZaahierAdams

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