CSA deny rumours of Smith quitting
Cricket South Africa (CSA) has denied rumours that Graeme Smith had threatened to step down as Test captain if wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile was selected in the XI for the series against India.
"There is no truth at all to these malicious and damaging comments," CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat said. "All selection procedures and protocols were followed in the selection of the squad and the playing XI, and were signed off by myself and Transformation Manager, Max Jordaan. As per CSA's selection policy, the captain is not involved in selection."
On Friday, Lorgat had been asked by South Africa's sports ministry to clarify the rumour, after the sports minister Fikile Mbalula heard about it during a live interview on a commercial radio station, MetroFM. The radio show's host was discussing transformation in sport with the sports minister, and he said he had received information that Smith had threatened to resign if the selectors insisted on playing Tsolekile in the first Test against India. Mbulala was asked for his response, but not having heard of the issue previously, he replied that if it was true, he considered it "regrettable."
A full version of events was sought from CSA and Lorgat spoke to Mbulala on Friday. CSA denied there was any dispute between Smith and the selectors and said the allegations had originated from a group of fans on social media. They said Smith had never indicated he would quit and the minister accepted the explanation.
In the lead-up to the Tests against India, there had been selection discussions over Tsolekile's role in the squad. There was support for South Africa's seven-batsmen strategy with AB de Villiers keeping wicket because of the balance it gave the team. The other argument concerned Faf du Plessis' poor form - he has not scored a Test half-century in eight innings - and whether there was merit in giving Tsolekile a chance as a specialist wicketkeeper.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent