Nicky Boje, who announced his retirement from international cricket earlier in the week, has slammed South Africa's selection policies, and expressed fears that there could be something of an exodus once the World Cup squad is named early in 2007.
"Enough is enough," he said in an interview with Rapport, an Afrikaans Sunday paper. "I'm fed up with reading in newspapers and hearing on a daily basis that I am not good enough, that I am not Warne or Murali. They are good, but take them out of the picture and see what world cricket is left with."
Boje was named in the Test squad for the series against India, but it's thought that comments made by Haroon Lorgat, convener of the selection panel, triggered his decision to retire. "The time comes when you have to ask yourself where you are going and where your loyalties lie," said Boje. "And mine are not with the Proteas anymore. The last straw was Lorgat's comment that apart from our spinners, our bowling attack is on par with Australia. There was a long build-up to my retirement, but it was still a difficult decision as I feel I still have a lot to offer the country."
Boje's relationship with Graeme Smith, captain since 2003, has frequently been an uneasy one, and it was noted in many quarters that he communicated his decision to retire to Tony Irish, of the players' union, and Gerald Majola, Cricket South Africa's chief executive. Lorgat and Mickey Arthur, the coach, were not initially informed. "Haroon did try to phone me," says Boje, "but unfortunately I missed the call."
Lorgat's unflattering comments about South African slow bowlers had come after a shock recall for Paul Adams, and Boje admitted that it was a decision that did little for the morale of other spinners in the country. "We have got spinners that can do a good job for SA," he said. "Claude Henderson, Con de Lange, Paul Harris and Johan Botha have got the potential to do well. Thandi Tshabalala is still young, but with the right leadership, he can become a factor. He just needs to know he's got the selectors' backing.
"It's funny that they say we don't have spinners of quality in the country, but yet the spinners are the leading wicket-takers in domestic cricket. I will share my experience with the young spinners in the country, but for now I'm focusing all my attention on the Eagles. They, after all, pay my salary."
Boje clearly feels that he never had the support from those that matter. "They treated me poorly," he says frankly, and another player quoted in the article also spoke of poor channels of communication between the selection panel and the players. "You never know what is expected of you or what your role should be," said the player, name withheld by request. "And you never know for sure that, despite a good performance, you will play in the next match."
With the so-called quota system the source of considerable disquiet - Kevin Pietersen weighs in with a comment every other week, or so it seems - Boje fears that things will only get worse. "I feel sorry for [someone like] Boeta Dippenaar," he said. "It can happen that some players decide to play overseas once the World Cup squad is selected, and they're not in it. With this uncertainty about their places, I get the idea that some players only play for themselves. That's not healthy for cricket in South Africa."