NSW Senator Dave Sharma has urged Cricket Australia (CA) chair Mike Baird to speak out against Cricket South Africa (CSA)’s decision to strip David Teeger (pictured) of the captaincy on the eve of the Under-19 World Cup.
CSA cited security threats to Teeger, who is Jewish, over Israel’s war in Gaza ahead of the tournament, which is only being held in South Africa because the International Cricket Council felt there was too much political interference for Sri Lanka to host it.
“We have been advised that protests related to the war in Gaza can be anticipated at the venues for the tournament. We have also been advised that they are likely to focus on … David Teeger,” the organisation said in a statement.
The World Cup is due to begin on January 19, but Sharma has written to Baird asking if any security concerns surrounding the tournament have been conveyed to CA.
“Are all Australian players at risk of ‘conflict or even violence’, or only Jewish cricket players?” Sharma asked.
“If South Africa has not provided such information to CA, and has not alerted us to security concerns, then it would appear that CSA’s decision to relieve Teeger of his captaincy was the result of political pressure and interference, and solely because of the fact that he is Jewish and has expressed public support for Israel’s right to defend itself.
“I would expect such political interference in the administration of the game, and on racial and religious grounds, would rightly attract criticism from cricketing authorities, including Cricket Australia.”
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) said following a meeting with CSA on Tuesday that the country’s cricket governing body had failed to provide “credible evidence that there had been any real security threats” around the tournament.
“The excuse provided for Teeger’s removal as captain, namely ‘security concerns’, is trumped up and bogus,” a statement said.
“The only explanation for why a young Jewish cricketer was arbitrarily stripped of his captaincy must therefore be plain antisemitism.
“The fact that the International Cricket Council is allowing this tournament to go ahead is tacit endorsement of CSA’s action. This recalls the infamous surrender of the International Olympic Committee to demands by Nazi Germany that Jews be excluded from participating in the 1936 Berlin Olympic games. Posterity will judge the ICC similarly harshly for its stance.
“We further call on the international community to protest against this blatant act of antisemitic discrimination on the part of CSA.”
Last year, Teeger was suspended by CSA when after being named rising star at a Jewish awards ceremony, he said, “The true rising stars are the young soldiers in Israel,” and dedicated the award to them.
In response, the Palestine Solidarity Alliance filed a complaint with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee. An independent inquiry cleared Teeger of breaching the CSA Code of Conduct and he was reinstated as captain on December 7.
A petition to reinstate Teeger as captain had almost 50,000 signatures by Wednesday morning.