JOHANNESBURG: South African cricket captain Dean Elgar said on Wednesday that his players supported head coach Mark Boucher, who faces a disciplinary process on charges of racism that could result in his dismissal.

Elgar was non-committal about whether he personally would testify in Boucher’s defence in hearings which have been delayed until May because Boucher intends to call some current players to testify.

It was announced on Tuesday that the hearings would be delayed until South Africa has completed a tour of New Zealand and an incoming tour by Bangladesh.

“It was news to me that that’s the process,” he told a departure press conference ahead of the two-Test tour of New Zealand.

“As a player you don’t have much control over that. It’s something we are going to have to chat about as a group. Whether or not it’s going to affect the team, I doubt it. This process has been in the air for quite some time now.

“We had a feeling that it might come to this point that players might be asked to testify. I’m sure we’ll cover those grounds in the next month.”

Elgar said he expected the South African Cricketers’ Association, which represents the players, to assist players regarding the process.

Asked whether the Boucher issue was something that would be “hanging over” the players or whether it would galvanise them, Elgar said, “I’d like to think the latter. Of late we’ve had these experiences that we’ve had to deal with as a players’ group. If anything it’s really helped us.

“We’ve realised cricket comes first for us. We know what the head coach is going through and we are supporting him because we know how much value he adds to our system and our group.”

It was announced earlier that new batting star Keegan Petersen was ruled out of the New Zealand tour after testing positive for Covid-19.

Petersen, 28, was named player of the series after South Africa’s 2-1 series win against India last month.

Playing in only his second series, Petersen filled the key number three batting position for South Africa and topped the run-scorers with 276 runs at an average of 46.00 with his top score of 82 coming in a crucial run chase in the third Test.

Petersen will be replaced by Zubayr Hamza, 26, who played the most recent of his five Tests against England in 2019-20.

“It’s another curve ball for us,” said Elgar. “I was looking forward to seeing him build on what he has achieved so far.”

South Africa will play two Tests against New Zealand, the world Test champions. Both matches will be at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, starting on Feb 17 and 25.

Revised squad: Dean Elgar (captain), Temba Bavuma (vice-­captain), Sarel Erwee, Zubayr Hamza, Simon Harmer, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada, Ryan Rickelton, Lutho Sip­amla, Glenton Stuurman, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne (wicket-keeper).

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2022

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