Cape Town - Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat reportedly told Proteas coach Russell Domingo via SMS to pick an extra player of colour in the team for their Cricket World Cup semi-final against New Zealand last week.
Netwerk24 reports that Lorgat SMS’ed Domingo at 01:00 New Zealand time the morning of the game.
Lorgat apparently told Domingo to choose between dropping Rilee Rossouw and picking Farhaan Behardien, or dropping Kyle Abbott for Vernon Philander.
Domingo and captain AB de Villiers wanted Abbott to play, but Lorgat refused to sign off the team if it consisted of only three players of colour - Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and Imran Tahir.
After discussing the issue at length with captain AB de Villiers, they decided to keep Rossouw and drop Abbott.
De Villiers and Philander were believed to be furious and refused to play, but were forced to face the Kiwis at Eden Park.
Cricket South Africa strongly denied these reports on Monday, but sources close to the Proteas camp confirmed to Netwerk24 that it was indeed what transpired.
Lorgat said he had never heard such “nonsense” during his tenure as team administrator, while sports minister Fikile Mbalula also denied influencing team selection in any way.
"We know who are spreading these speculations and we will not dignify them by mentioning their names," Mbalula said via a statement.
"These are acts of desperate colonial apartheid apologist(s)... We shall not be deterred by their mischief."
Philander struggled with injury throughout the tournament and appeared unfit to play the semi-final against New Zealand, while Abbott had a stellar tournament, taking 9 wickets at an average of 14.44 (economy 4.19). Philander took 4 wickets at an average of 33.75 (economy: 4.73).
New Zealand beat South Africa by 4 wickets last Tuesday to advance to the Cricket World Cup final, which they lost to Australia in Melbourne on Sunday.