|Player:||JH Kallis, N Boje, PL Symcox, GC Smith|
DateLine: 20th December 2006
South African cricket, already reeling after the national team collapsed to 84 all out in the first Test against India, found itself enmeshed in front page controversy Sunday.
The Sunday Times reported that vice-captain and star all-rounder Jacques Kallis refused to sing the national anthem, while the Afrikaans newspaper Rapport published strong criticism of the sport's officials by spin bowler Nicky Boje, who retired suddenly when he was due to join the team for the Test.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) will discuss with Kallis what the player describes as "good and valid personal reasons" why he does not sing the national anthem when it is played before international matches.
The Sunday Times published an e-mail from Kallis to a member of the public who had queried why he did not sing the anthem. Kallis wrote: "It is my choice whether I sing or do not sing the anthem. I certainly do not have to explain my reasons to anyone, especially you. I do have good and valid personal reasons and I intend to keep it that way."
Kallis refused to elaborate on his comments but Cricket SA chief executive Gerald Majola said the issue would be discussed with the player after the Test. National symbols are a particularly sensitive issue in South Africa with a new anthem and new flag introduced when the country achieved majority rule in 1994.
Majola said CSA "insists on having the SA anthem sung." He listed several reasons, including the enhancement and encouragement of nation-building and because it was "a bridge between the players and the spectators, unifying their support of their nation and of each other."
Majola said these reasons had been explained to the players and there had been no request from any player not to sing the anthem.
Meanwhile, Boje told Rapport he felt he had been harshly treated by the selectors. "At some stage you have to ask yourself where you are going and where your loyalties lie. Mine are no longer with the Proteas."
Boje, who will continue to play domestic cricket for the Eagles franchise, said an unhealthy situation had developed in South African cricket. He said he believed several players would opt to play their cricket in other countries if they were not selected for the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.
"With the uncertainty over places and the scramble to be part of the group it seems as though certain players are playing for themselves and their own places and that is unhealthy for SA cricket," said Boje.
Former Test off-spinner Pat Symcox joined the criticism when he said South African captain Graeme Smith was so busy dealing with non-cricket issues that he did not have time to concentrate on his game.
Smith, who has been in woeful form, was out for five Saturday at the start of his team's slide to 84 all out, their lowest total since the country returned to international cricket in 1991. Although cricket officials have denied there is conflict in the national team set-up, there was a public rift between Smith and selection convenor Haroon Lorgat shortly before the third one-day international in Cape Town where Lorgat insisted on a late change to the team when Smith was walking out for the toss.
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