Norman Arendse, the president of Cricket South Africa, has denied interfering in team selection, in particular, the row involving Charl Langeveldt's selection over Andre Nel for the recent tour of India.
In an interview to the Cape Times, Arendse asserted that Langeveldt was indeed in the original squad and he went on to blame the selectors for leaking information to the media, leading to Nel being dragged into the issue.
"I don't know what was said to Andre Nel," Arendse told the paper. "I can't comment on that. All I can say is that I did not interfere in the team selection. I never took him out and put in Charl Langeveldt. Whoever spread that story must take responsibility. It is absolute lies."
The transformation policy had earlier led to a delay in naming the squad for the short tour of Bangladesh which preceded the Indian tour. It led to a very public argument between Arendse and coach Mickey Arthur over the quota policy and both sides issued counter complaints about their treatment.
Arendse complained the squad contained only four coloured players instead of the stipulated seven and Arthur responded saying Arendse should keep out of team selections. Ultimately, Arthur got the team he wanted as the original squad presented to Arendse was selected, which didn't include Langeveldt.
The issue reared up again towards the end of the tour, when the Test squad for India was announced. Langeveldt got the nod over Nel, sparking speculation over the decision. Nel was apparently devastated over his omission, leading to further rumours that he considered quitting international cricket. CSA soon confirmed those reports were false. There was further drama when Langeveldt pulled out of the India tour, saying the entire controversy over his selection had upset him.
"The protocol is for the selection convener (Joubert Strydom) to hand me a sheet with a squad of 14 or 15 names on it," Arendse said. "If the target of seven players of colour is not met, he is supposed to give me an explanation. If I'm not satisfied with the explanation, I then ask him to explain further or I send the team back. That never even happened in that particular case. When the team was presented to me, Langeveldt was in the team. He was always in the original team. The problem has been leaks to the media from the selectors themselves.
"Selectors must take collective responsibility for the team that is eventually agreed. Given our fragile situation and the transformation policy of CSA, one or more selectors have only served to fuel an already very fragile situation. I am not a selector and I don't discuss the merits or demerits of players with selectors."
Arendse insisted that he enjoyed a good working relationship with Arthur after the row. "We have a good relationship and a good understanding," Arendse said. "I'm a cricket person and he's a cricket person. It was never an issue between Norman Arendse and Mickey Arthur. But unfortunately that was how it was portrayed by certain sections of the media because it suited their agenda."
Arendse however, admitted he was disappointed at Langeveldt's decision to cancel his contract with CSA and sign as a Kolpak player in England.
"Firstly, I have to say that Kolpak does not mean players are no longer not allowed to represent their country. We have cleared that up with the English and various councils. But yes, it has been disappointing that Charl made himself unavailable, and also his turning down of a contract offered by CSA. The irony is that he would have been an automatic choice for England, and the further irony is that Andre Nel has benefited from his non-availability. It's not a train smash, we have lots of talented youngsters who can take his place."