Racism claims follow Smith suspension

The decision to suspend Michael Smith, Border's opening batsman, has triggered a row which threatens to have serious repercussions .

Smith was suspended for talking to the press and left out of the match against Western Province as a result of the decision by Simpiwe Ndzundzu, Border's convenor of selectors.

Smith was punished for allegedly speaking to the Daily Dispatch after being dropped two weeks ago. He admitted that he was approached by the paper and asked if he was injured or unavailable, but added that he had no contract with Border and so was not bound by any conditions as long as he did not bring the side into disrepute. It also is claimed that Ndzundzu took the decision without consulting other selectors or giving Smith the chance to defend himself.

Smith issued a press release in which he said that Ndzundzu had told him that he "wasn't good enough to make the team this time," and that he "did not fit into the make-up of the team.

After being left out, Smith said he showed Ndzundzu a letter from the journalist concerned stating that he had approached him first for comment. "The convenor then said that by then it was too late to do anything and I was still to be disciplined for answering the questions," Smith added. "It is amazing that one man who supposedly has cricket at heart, can manipulate matters to suit himself. It is not surprising that a number of the Border amateur players are looking to play their cricket in other provinces next season."

The row has opened up a debate over the role of Ndzundzu, with reports suggesting that some of the side are unhappy with the way he operates, accusing him of arbitrarily making decisions and of favouring players from Good Hope where he is chairman.

Ndzundzu would only say that he had drafted a letter to the Border Cricket Board outlining what had happened, adding: "In the meantime I can confirm that Smith has been suspended for one match for ill-discipline."

Mark Taljard, the coach at Old Selbornians, Smith's club side, was livid at the decision and slammed Ndzundzu. "They (Border selectors) are cutting short Michael's career and are sending out a clear signal that it doesn't matter how good you are. If you have a white skin you stand no chance of getting selected for Border. Nine out of the 12 players in the Border squad are players of colour. All I want to see is the best players on the Border in the team. Why do they pick players from the bottom eight clubs and ignore the players who play for and against the top six clubs?"