South Africa selectors axed after Arthur exit

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South Africa's selection panel has been sacked just 24 hours after the national side's coach, Mickey Arthur, announced he was stepping down after almost five years in the job. While an emotional Arthur appeared before the press in his hometown of East London yesterday, chairman of selectors Mike Proctor was being told his and his committee colleagues' services were no longer needed.

The man delivering the news – the South African cricket board's chief executive Gerald Majola – will head an interim replacement committee, which will also include current stand-in coach Corrie van Zyl and former captain Kepler Wessels. Majola is planning a "structural overhaul" of the selection process, to be decided on at a meeting on 19 February.

There will be inevitable speculation that South African cricket's night of the long knives is related to the ongoing bitterness about racial quotas and the South African government's desire to see more black players in the national side. Arthur is believed to have stepped down for that reason, and yesterday he talked of "differences" with the board having led to his exit.

"Differences have arisen on the way forward and I don't believe I can take the team on in the present circumstances," he said. "My vision of how to go forward was clear, but the board's was different."

Majola said a dispute over coaching appointments led to Arthur's departure. "In the last few years, the coach has been able to appoint his own staff, but after speaking to the players, the board felt changes were necessary," he said. "Mickey did not believe he'd be able to choose his own people, so he moved on."

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