Cape Town – Cricket in South Africa is set to undergo a historic change on Friday when cricket chiefs rubber-stamp a proposal that its six professional domestic teams field at least one black African player in their starting line-ups.
It is believed franchises will be rewarded financially if they consistently field more than one black African.
The teams have been bound to an agreement, reached at a “transformation indaba” a decade ago, that set a “target” of four “players of colour” for the six domestic franchise teams – the Dolphins, Cobras, Titans, Lions, Warriors and Knights.
The initial proposal of two black African cricket players – made a few weeks ago, after CSA’s transformation indaba – is likely to be reduced to one player at Friday’s CSA board meeting because squads have been finalised for the new season.
The proposal is to be implemented from the second round of 1-Day Cup fixtures scheduled for October 16.
The South African domestic season gets underway on Friday with the One-Day Cup clash between the Cape Cobras and the Titans at Centurion. on Saturday the Knights play the Warriors and on Sunday the Dolphins play the Lions. The ruling relating specifically to black Africans will not be applicable for these matches.
Tony Irish, chairman of the South African Cricketers Association (Saca), said transformation, and especially the proposal relating to black African cricketers, had been high on the agenda at Saca’s annual meeting, held midweek.
“We are supportive of transformation in South African cricket,” he said.
“The main thing for us, though, is how it is implemented, whether it is immediate or progressive. Quota numbers are always a concern for us, and here I am talking about hard and fast numbers, because it relates to selection and selection affects all players, regardless of race.
“From experience, we know individual black African players will view it as an opportunity, while others will want to prove their sense of belonging.
“That is why at Saca, we have a personal development programme called Saca Player Plus and an ‘off-field mentor’ programme at every franchise that provides support and assistance. This is not set up for any particular group of players and all players have opportunity and access to them.”
Highveld Lions coach Geoff Toyana, the only black African franchise coach, who regularly fields two and sometimes three black Africans in his team, said: “It is important for us as a nation to have a black African playing Test cricket, so we as franchise coaches have to support and back talented black African cricketers at franchise level.”