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August 18, 2006
The South African Cricketers' Association (SACA) has said that the criticism directed at South Africa for their decision to withdraw from the tri-series in Sri Lanka is grossly unfair and based on ignorance of the facts. South Africa left Colombo on Thursday after a report from an independent security consultant to Cricket South Africa found the current risk to the team to be at an "unacceptable level" after the bomb blast on Monday.
"What critics of our players fail to understand," said Tony Irish, chief executive officer of SACA, "is that the decision to withdraw from the tour wasn't a decision of the players. It was a decision made by Cricket South Africa (CSA). It was also made properly after consideration of the security reports and in consultation with SACA which represents the players. The whole team supported the decision."
Gerald Majola, the CSA chief executive, said that a threat received from the Tamil Tiger Youth was the clinching factor in the decision to go home. "The Tamil Tiger Youth sent an email to the [South African] High Commission this morning saying that the team must come home," Majola told Reuters. "I've seen the e-mail."
The SACA revealed that the e-mail contained the following statements.
"We expect you to make a proper decision by cancelling the tournament. By doing this, you can be sure that your great players are protected in any cause" and "we would like to inform you that anything can happen, therefore we urge you to return back to your homeland."
"Over the last day or two," said Irish "I've heard and read statements suggesting that our players are 'chicken', that there was a split between players and that Mark Boucher and senior players somehow orchestrated the withdrawal. This is nonsense. Quite frankly CSA had a duty to the country to do what it did given the information at hand".
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Graeme Smith was the last of South Africa's old guard. The roots of the new one need to grow deeper