Cricket: S Africa chief `sorry' after Test outburst

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THE PRESIDENT of the United Cricket Board of South Africa has been forced to apologise for a outburst aimed at the country's sports minister, Steve Tshwete.

Ray White issued a personal statement at the close of the second day's play in the fourth Test against West Indies yesterday after finding himself in trouble for unscripted remarks at the end of a speech on the UCBSA's "transformation charter" for the game.

In a speech broadcast live on national television during the tea interval, White ended what was billed as "a pledge to the nation" by saying: "To those seeking to interfere with our team, we don't want it and we don't need it."

The remarks were clearly aimed at Tshwete, who had previously criticised the lack of black players in the national team.

Tshwete was quoted in yesterday's South African newspapers underlining his concerns. "I am worried we will be sending white teams to the rugby and cricket World Cups this year," he said. "If that is the case, it will be difficult for me to support them."

White's comments angered fellow members of the multi-racial transformation committee which has been set up to hasten change.

In his later statement, White said: "I wish to apologise to the cricket community of South Africa for allowing my personal remarks to be associated with the important pledge to the nation in respect of the Transformation Charter that has been developed by so many people over such a long period of time.

"I would like to emphasise that neither I nor the UCB wish to confront the government or any other sporting organisation but rather believe that the problems facing us are best solved by consultation and communication."

South Africa chose the Cape coloured players Herschelle Gibbs and Paul Adams for the fourth Test but Tshwete is unhappy that more African players have not made the breakthrough.

n Wasim Akram, who is involved in an inquiry into alleged corruption in Pakistan cricket, is to captain his country on their tour of India and in this summer's World Cup in England.