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Proteas exit clouded by 'political controversy'

Allegations are rife that there was selection interference in the team that played the semifinal.

South African captain AB de Villiers kneels down after New Zealand beat the Proteas in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup semifinals at Eden Park in Auckland on 24 March 2015. Picture: Cricket SA.

JOHANNESBURG - The Proteas exit from the World Cup has been clouded in controversy following allegations that there was selection interference in the team that took to the field in the semifinal against New Zealand.

There are allegations that senior players were unhappy after in-form Kyle Abbott was initially selected and then subsequently stood down for Vernon Philander after a call was made to ensure that additional players of colour were included.

Philander had struggled with injury during the course of the tournament while Abbott, who had replaced him, was arguably South Africa's best bowler at the tournament.

EWN Sport has spoken to both the Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who both categorically denied any political interference in the team's make-up in Auckland.

This contrasts with multiple sources close to the camp who claim that a change in selection did take place.

"I must tell you I've never heard any more nonsense like that in my entire tenure as team administrator. I was at the World Cup, I was in the vicinity of the team and there was absolutely no interference from the minister," said Lorgat.

While Mbalula says his department makes no decisions on selection of any national team.

"The team selection has got nothing to do with the minister and the minister had no space to make such calls of who must be selected and who should not be selected. I support all the boys, those who were selected and not selected and those who were not given opportunity."