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SJN hearings – CSA’s ACSU officer denies racial discrimination in Ram Slam fixing case

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There was no racial discrimination in the investigation and sanctioning of seven South African players for conspiring to fix matches in the 2015-16 Ram Slam, according to Louis Cole, the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) officer who headed the inquiry.

They told the SJN that they were targeted because of their race. Cole disputed that with details of their attempts to fix matches and their negotiations involving sums of money ranging from R30,000 (US$2,000) to R1,000,000 (US$68,000), after being recruited by Gulam Bodi.
Last year, Tsolekile and Petersen made similar claims on a national radio show, leading to CSA issuing a notice of its willingness to reinvestigate if players were racially discriminated against during in the investigation.

Cole, whose testimony lasted for four hours, said there was no discrimination and that the inquiry was conducted in line with both the ICC’s Anti-Corruption guidelines and South Africa’s criminal investigatory proceedings.

Bodi, Pumi Matshikweand Jean Symes, the three other players involved, have not appeared at the SJN. In 2019, Bodi was sentenced to five years in prison under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act while Symes has appeared before South Africa’s specialist crimes unit, the Hawks, and Matshikwe has been approached by them.

“The allegations that the players made before the SJN, based on the evidence that we uncovered and that I presented today, in my opinion, is a misrepresentation of the facts,” Cole said. “It is very unfortunate that they would have used this platform of the SJN, which I feel is very important for cricket in South Africa, and also for players.

“As the ombudsman has alluded to, the terms of reference was to investigate discrimination against players within the game. For these players to use this platform, which could have been used to investigate and deal with players who had genuinely been discriminated against, is very unfortunate. We investigated this over a period of 20 months, where it really took its toll. I think that is very unfair.“

Cole presented the SJN with video evidence from interviews conducted with the players during the investigation as well as one of a cellphone camera which documented Tsolekile’s meeting with a match fixer. Tsolekile could be heard telling the fixer about team selection and the players he could recruit.

“At the moment, I am talking about the definites. It’s me and Lopsy,” Tsolekile is heard saying in the video. “And Pumi. Symes is in, but I don’t think he is going to play. If Pumi is fit he will play.”

The video also contained an interview which the ICC’s interim general manager of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Martin Vertigen, conducted with Manish Jain, one of the fixers Bodi was working with. Jain picked Tsolekile, Tsotsobe, Matshikwe and Petersen out of a photo board of players he had recruited to fix matches.

Jain confirmed to Vertigen that he offered Tsolekile, Tsotsobe and Petersen R220,000 (US$15,000) for a fix that involved Tsotsobe conceding more than 10 runs in an over (the over number was going to be finalised before the match), while Tsolekile and Petersen were due to score slowly. The money would be paid to the players after the game between Lions and Dolphins on November 4, 2015, provided the fix took place. But, it didn’t.

In a later part of the video, Bodi detailed how he collaborated with a different fixer, who made offers of R600,000 (US$40,800) to Tsolekile and R10,00,000 (US$68,000) to Tsolekile and Tsotsobe jointly for fixing. However, the only money that changed hands was an amount to secure the players’ availability for the fix.

Cole confirmed that Bodi said Tsolekile received R75,000 (US$5100), Tsotsobe received R60,000 (US4000) and Matshikwe, Mbhalati and Symes got R30,000 each (US$3000), while there was no evidence that Petersen received any money. This despite him agreeing to R100,000 (US$6800) to confirm his involvement, only for him not arrive to collect it.

The video evidence also corroborates CSA’s statement, made last year, that Vaughn van Jaarsveld and Craig Alexander rejected Bodi’s offer to fix and blew the whistle on his plans.

Bodi confirmed to investigators that he had “a no” from both van Jaarsveld and Alexander, who were mentioned by Tsotsobe, in particular, as having not been investigated because of racial privilege. van Jaarsveld is white, while Alexander is coloured.

Cole also explains why the seven players in the Ram Slam scandal received bans of several years when Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams, who were involved in the Hansie Cronje match-fixing scandal of 2000, were sanctioned for just six months each. “There was no anti-corruption training and there was no ICC code at that time,” he said, while explaining the penalty was a “practical one”.

SJN ombudsman Dumisa Ntsebeza, whose terms of reference do not include match-fixing, said Cole’s testimony has added to the complexities of his task in order to determine the extent of racial discrimination in South African cricket.

“In as much as there may be an emphasis as to who became the victims of what happened in the past, there is a sense in which the irony becomes one where even the perpetrators are the victims in a sense, if what the victims are alleging turns out to be manifestly inaccurate or untrue,” he said. “Then the alleged perpetrators become the victims themselves of what has been said about them.

“Which is why even within the strictures of time that this project has unfortunately been compelled to act within, an opportunity had to be provided for everyone, especially those who had been mentioned to their detriment to rebut allegations, to explain where allegations need to be explained and also to give me the opportunity to reflect, at the end of it all, what I make of the evidence.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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Mark Boucher charged with ‘gross misconduct’

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South Africa’s head coach to face a disciplinary hearing chaired by senior counsel advocate Terry Motau; he will remain in his role as coach in the interim

In a follow-up to the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) report, Mark Boucher has been charged with gross misconduct by Cricket South Africa, and will face a disciplinary hearing chaired by senior counsel advocate Terry Motau. Boucher remains in his role as head coach of the senior men’s team, and will be with the team as they take on India in the second ODI in Paarl on Friday.

On Thursday, CSA named Motau as chairperson of the disciplinary hearing into the allegations of misconduct against Boucher, and said in a statement that the coach had been presented with his charge sheet.

The statement said: “It is proposed that the parties [Boucher] will meet with Advocate [Motau] on 26th January 2022 to determine a timetable for the proceedings.

“This follows December’s Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) report, which made tentative findings regarding allegations of discrimination and racism against various persons, including Mr Boucher. Specifically, during the SJN process, allegations of racism were levelled against Mr Boucher by his former Proteas team-mate, Paul Adams.
“CSA confirms that a charge sheet, containing both the disciplinary charges against Mr Boucher, as well as his rights, was provided to him on 17 January. The upcoming inquiry will also consider concerns and allegations that arose following the resignation of former assistant coach, Enoch Nkwe.

“While Mr Boucher is being charged with gross misconduct, which could lead to his dismissal, CSA emphasises it is important that the independent inquiry first needs to test all allegations before any question of sanction can arise.”

Responding to the development, Boucher issued a statement of his own later in the day, saying: “I look forward to dealing with and defending these allegations which have been made and will do so at the hearing in due course. For now I am solely focused on my duties as head coach of the Proteas.”*

The SJN report, which was released in December, made “tentative” findings that Boucher, among others, had engaged in prejudicial and discriminatory conduct in the past on the basis of race. But ombudsman Dumisa Ntsebeza was unable to make definite findings, and recommended to CSA that a further process be undertaken for this. This secondary process is now what CSA is flagging off, with Motau at the helm.

The CSA statement said further steps in this regard will be announced “in due course”. “Further steps and action by CSA to transform cricket and act on other applicable recommendations in the SJN report, aligned to the Board’s new strategic framework and pillars of access, inclusion and excellence, will be announced in due course.”

*2.45pm GMT, February 20: The article was updated with Boucher’s statement.



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Match Preview – Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe in Sri Lanka 2021/22, 3rd ODI

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Preview

Sri Lanka looked a batter short in the second ODI, with the Zimbabwe quicks triggering a collapse

Big picture

On Tuesday, two significant weaknesses in Sri Lanka’s XI were exposed. On flat tracks, even with Dushmantha Chameera in the side, the bowling attack lacked for penetration through the early and middle overs, with only legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay claiming wickets in the first 35. Then, while chasing 303, the top order’s fragilities were laid bare. Against testing but hardly unplayable bowling, Sri Lanka were 31 for 3 inside eight overs, and 63 for 4 inside 15. Although captain Dasun Shanaka‘s maiden international hundred kept Sri Lanka in the hunt, you don’t come out on top of many chases with the kind of start they had.

Their strategy has come under serious review with that loss; perhaps they are a batter short. With Kamindu Mendis and Charith Asalanka capable of contributing overs, could they perhaps push Chamika Karunaratne down to No. 8? And it is possible they did not use their better bowlers enough. Vandersay had one over unbowled; Karunaratne, who had taken a wicket and gone at only four an over, delivered only six of his possible ten.

Zimbabwe, meanwhile, will be thrilled at their own bowlers’ performances. Blessing Muzarabani was the standout on Tuesday, as he, Tendai Chatara and Richard Ngarava produced arguably the defining period of the game – the early overs of Sri Lanka’s innings. In fact, such was the dominance of those three quicks, and the control of left-arm spinner Wellington Masakadza, that Zimbabwe didn’t even need Sikandar Raza to bowl his offspin at any stage. The attack also held its nerve when the match seemed headed for a tight finish.
A victory in the final match would give Zimbabwe their first series win of this inaugural Super League cycle after also tying a series against Ireland. And it would be the second successive ODI series they would have won in Sri Lanka, having done the same back in 2017, which amounts to serious bragging rights.

Big picture

Sri Lanka LWWLW (Last five completed matches; most recent first)
Zimbabwe WLLWL

In the spotlight

In the four years that Blessing Muzarabani has played ODIs for Zimbabwe, he has had a substantial impact. Away from home, his numbers are excellent: 25 wickets from 16 matches at an average of 27.32. And what is more, since late 2020, he is on a pretty serious run of form despite the infrequency with which Zimbabwe play. In his last nine ODIs, he has gone wicketless only once. Tall, sharp and accurate, he will likely be a menace again come Friday.

While Dasun Shanaka did not have the best night as captain, perhaps mismanaging his bowling resources, he will at least be pleased that he produced his first excellent innings since taking over as Sri Lanka’s white-ball captain last year. His form had been a concern right through the last few months, and was perhaps the greatest sticking point in his captaincy so far. Another good innings will help shore up his leadership.

Pitch and conditions

Another flat surface is expected in Pallekele. The weather is not forecast to interrupt.

Team news

Offspinning allrounder Ramesh Mendis is likely to come into Sri Lanka’s XI in order to target Craig Ervine and Sean Williams, the two left-handers in Zimbabwe’s middle order, as well as to bolster the hosts’ batting. Maheesh Theekshana, who has been economical without being a major wicket-taking threat, is likeliest to make way.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Mendis (wk), 3 Kamindu Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 7 Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Ramesh Mendis, 9 Dushmantha Chameera, 10 Jeffrey Vandersay, 11 Nuwan Pradeep

Zimbabwe were unchanged in the second ODI, and will probably see no need to switch things up for this game too.

Zimbabwe (possible): 1 Regis Chakabva (wk), 2 Takudzwanashe Kaitano, 3 Craig Ervine (capt), 4 Wesley Madhevere, 5 Sean Williams, 6 Sikandar Raza, 7 Ryan Burl, 8 Wellington Masakadza, 9 Blessing Muzarabani, 10 Tendai Chatara, 11 Richard Ngarava

Stats and trivia

  • Zimbabwe have now won four of their last seven ODIs in Sri Lanka. Before 2017, they had never won a match on the island.
  • In 12 innings in 2020, Shanaka averaged 22.45 with a strike rate of 71. But thanks to Tuesday’s knock, he averages 112 and strikes at 106 across two innings so far this year.
  • Despite their modest overall ODI record, Sri Lanka have won three of their last four bilateral ODI series at home, defeating Bangladesh, West Indies and South Africa since 2019.
  • Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf



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    Womens Ashes 2022 – Tammy Beaumont wants England to ‘get over the line’ after encouraging start ends in defeat

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    England opener described Australia allrounder Tahlia McGrath’s execution as “the difference between kicking onto like 180-190”

    Tammy Beaumont has backed England to compete with Australia when the sides reconvene for back-to-back matches at the Adelaide Oval over the weekend to complete the T20I leg of their Ashes series. But despite a heavy defeat in the first T20I to start off the tour, she was keen to highlight the positives for England after the match – not least after the visitors’ senior side had lost both of their T20 warm-up matches to England A in the lead-up to Thursday’s series opener.
    “We’ve come a long way in the space of less than a week,” Beaumont said. “There’s still a long way to go. We’ve got a lot more cricket to play, and I’m sure [we] will improve. We wanted to come out here and play the way we want to play T20 cricket, and to put 170 on the board was certainly the way we go about it. The way Danni Wyatt came out and really attacked – particularly the spinners down the ground – I thought was exceptional.

    “We wanted to say that we’re going to come toe-to-toe with Australia, and I think they were surprised in the field. You saw some mistakes from them, so I think we started well but we’ve just got to try and get over the line.”

    Beaumont admitted that there was little England’s batters could do in the face of Tahlia McGrath‘s excellent bowling, which not only removed two set batters – Wyatt and Sciver in a double-wicket over – at a crucial time but also accounted for No. 5 Amy Jones, caught for four at long-on by Grace Harris, who returned to the Australian line-up with Beth Mooney’s fractured jaw pushing captain Meg Lanning up the order to open and Ellyse Perry dropped primarily owing to a dwindling strike rate.

    Australia’s depth wasn’t tested even after Sophie Ecclestone dismissed Alyssa Healy for just seven in the fourth over of their response thanks to McGrath and Lanning, the latter finishing on an unbeaten 64 off 44 balls. Ecclestone, the left-arm spinner who took a stunning 7 for 14 for England in a losing cause in one of the T20 warm-ups against England A, remains a huge weapon for the visitors, but the Australian line-up looked impenetrable in Adelaide on Thursday. As McGrath and Lanning turned up the pressure, cracks formed in England’s fielding and that was one area Beaumont said needed work.

    “I’ve been part of heavier defeats in some ways,” Beaumont said. “Obviously they have got a nine-wicket win at the end of the day but to post 170 on a ground where the par in women’s cricket here is a lot lower is a massive positive. We started really well in the powerplay as well with the ball. We’ve got to tighten up some areas: we probably didn’t field well enough on our ground fielding, and maybe tighten up our lines a little bit and come back with some plans to try and get those two out.”

    The hosts took the first two points of the seven-match multi-format contest with an emphatic victory in the opening game – thanks to McGrath’s three wickets and 91 not out, despite England setting themselves up well through an 82-run opening partnership between Beaumont and Wyatt, and another 59-run stand for the second wicket between Wyatt and Sciver. Wyatt had breathed new life into her international career with 89* in the third T20I against India in July and unbeaten 50-over scores of 63 and 43 during New Zealand’s visit to England in September. Her latest innings of 70 came off just 54 balls and included three glorious sixes, while Beaumont contributed 30 off 24.

    But the margin of defeat and the fact that England’s bowlers had no answers as McGrath and Lanning put on an unbroken second-wicket union of 144 to see their side home with three overs to spare, is cause for concern. So too is the fact that – surviving McGrath’s pin-point yorker in a devastating double-wicket over aside – England couldn’t have done much more with the bat.

    “We just need to build a bit of pressure, get a couple of dots an over, stop the boundary balls and then if they’ve got to get nine an over – which they did at one stage – they’re going to have to take more risks,” Beaumont said. “They played really well, took the right risks at the right time, but I’m not too worried about our bowling attack – it’s been brilliant for the last two, three years.”

    “At the beginning of the day we would definitely have taken 170,” Beaumont said. “We just really wanted to get off to a good start and set the tone really well for our team. Credit to Tahlia McGrath, she bowled two brilliant yorkers there to get our two set batters out and that’s probably the difference between kicking onto like 180-190.”

    Meanwhile, England face one injury concern going into the second match on Saturday after Maia Bouchier appeared to jar her right knee heavily as she attempted to stop a McGrath boundary and spent the rest of the match off the field with it strapped and packed in ice.

    Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo



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