COMMENT: No quota excuse for Proteas at this World Cup

KAGISO Rabada is the only black African player in the Proteas squad for the T20 World Cup. Photo: BackpagePix

KAGISO Rabada is the only black African player in the Proteas squad for the T20 World Cup. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 1, 2024


Comment by Ongama Gcwabe

EVER since quotas were implemented in South African cricket, they have mostly carried negativity, despite being applied to make the sport in the country more inclusive for it to thrive.

The topic of quotas, or transformation targets, took centre stage once again when coach Rob Walter named only one black African player in Kagiso Rabada in the Proteas T20 World Cup squad last month.

Walter emphasised that he selected the best side available, and one he believes will win South Africa’s first World Cup.

It was a surprise that the group was approved by Cricket South Africa’s director of cricket Enoch Nkwe and the CSA board, as Walter became the first coach to be given the World Cup squad he wanted without having to meet transformation targets.

Should the Proteas return from the T20 World Cup in the US and the Caribbean empty-handed once again, Walter will take full responsibility as the squad is his, and no outside influence had affected the team.

This makes a huge difference for the players of colour who are in the squad as well, as they do not stand to be used as scapegoats for failed World Cup runs like some of those in the past.

Who can forget the abuse Vernon Philander had to endure when he was selected in the playing XI over an in-form Kyle Abbott in the 2015 World Cup semi-final and blamed for that loss?

It was as if Philander had single-handedly lost South Africa the match, which was never the case.

That situation only further tainted the term ‘quotas’, but this time around, there will be no such talk as none of the players of colour in the squad – Ottniel Baartman, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Keshav Maharaj, Rabada and Tabraiz Shamsi – come close to being labelled a quota inclusion.

Another example was the abuse Temba Bavuma was subjected to during the last two World Cups – the 2022 T20 version in Australia and the 2023 ODI edition in India.

Bavuma was not in the greatest of form at the two events, but was certainly in superb touch leading into the tournaments, meaning his selection in both squads was warranted.

But to this day, most cricket fans blame Bavuma and the quota system for how the Proteas exited those two competitions.

As the T20 World Cup gets underway tomorrow, there will be no quotas to hide behind for the South African team, whatever happens over the next few weeks.

Proteas T20 World Cup Squad

Aiden Markram (captain), Ottniel Baartman, Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, David Miller, Anrich Nortjé, Kagiso Rabada, Ryan Rickelton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs.