Faiek Davids: Barry Richards refused to commentate with me at Newlands Test
CAPE TOWN – Faiek Davids, one of the finest sportsmen from the non-racial fraternity during apartheid, says that former Springbok Test batsman Barry Richards “refused” to share a commentary booth with him during a match at Newlands in 2002.
Davids, the current Cape Cobras assistant coach, was speaking on Thursday night during a webinar on Black Lives Matter that was hosted by a community organisation, the United Coalition for Sport and Community Based Organizations (UCSCBO).
The webinar also featured Davids’ colleague and head coach of the Cobras, Ashwell Prince, former SA hockey captain Marsha Cox, another former SA hockey player, Lungile Tsolekile, and former Ambassador to the United States and ex-Western Cape Premier, Ebrahim Rasool.
Davids was an outstanding cricketer, rugby player and athlete during apartheid under the non-racial Sacos banner, and was part of the last SA Cricket Board XI in 1991, as well as the rugby Saru XV in 1989 and 1990.
While speaking about his lack of playing opportunities in cricket following unity in 1991 – he was belatedly added to the SA team that toured India that year, as well as the 1992 Cricket World Cup – Davids also brought up an incident involving Richards following retirement in 2002.
“There was another instance in 2002, where I was finished with my professional playing career, and I was asked to do some commentating for Sky. I was on a fantastic panel of commentators – Michael Holding was on there, Ravi Shastri, Allan Border – it was the Test that South Africa played against Australia at Newlands,” the 55-year-old said during the webinar.
“It was my first time commentating, and I opened the Test by doing the pitch report and all of that. Then I went into the commentating box, and I saw the roster of the commentators that you will also be commentating with during the five days.
“Just to cut a long story short, Barry Richards was also part of that panel, and he was the only person that refused, point-blank refused to commentate with me on air.
“So, he took himself off, and whenever I was supposed to come on – and the two of us were supposed to commentate (together) – he just took himself off. I don’t know… I can’t say what that man felt in his heart… that he didn’t want to commentate with me.”
* Read Barry Richards’ response here
With regards to the 1991 India tour, Davids said he went to the sub-continent as “an additional player… an all-white team went to India” – along with Hussein Manack, Derek Crookes and Hansie Cronjé.
“I wasn’t part of the playing squad. These four additional players were going to be the future of South African cricket, but as history has been told, Hansie and Derek Crookes moved on (to enjoy international careers)… myself and Hussein Manack were left behind,” said the hard-hitting middle-order batsman, who was in his prime at 26 at the time.
“We went with open eyes and were excited, but what we felt as cricketers – I went along as a representative of black South African cricket. But it was sad not to be participating on the field of play. We trained with the guys and were part of team meetings, but the only thing that we weren’t allowed to do was step on to the field and represent your country.
“In 1992, the same thing happened when a World Cup squad was selected. Omar Henry was part of the playing squad, and myself and Yaseen Begg were added to the squad as additional members, for whatever reason.
“Once again, it was the first World Cup after unification, and still today, I still don’t understand it in terms of what happened with the negotiations of unity – we never had representation on the field of play.
“All these years have gone by, and there was always going to be a time where we would share our story. But never ever were we granted an opportunity to share our stories of what was happening behind closed doors.”
Prince, who pledged his support for Lungi Ngidi’s BLM stance and has spoken out about his own experiences in Proteas sides, added that “our people have really suffered in this country”.
“People always thought things were rosy in the Proteas camp, and I wanted to point out that it wasn’t always as rosy as people thought. I said (recently) that perhaps we started on the wrong note when we came back from isolation,” the former left-hander said.
“We have a history of the game being played on the non-racial side – on the side of Sacos – and I certainly grew up playing my sport under (that banner)… a history of over 100 years, and people never spoke about that history.
“I felt the need to, as head coach of the Cobras, they need to know who Faiek Davids is, because South African cricket doesn’t want to talk about that history – Faiek Davids, Vincent Barnes, the Magiets. I grew up as an EP boy, the Khaya Majolas of this world, ‘Bravo’ Jacobs, legends within our game.
“And it’s just a history that’s never been told. All you’ve ever heard is of people who have had a taste of international cricket – Graeme Pollock and Barry Richards, etc. And how the world missed out on them. But nobody’s ever told the story of how the world missed out on our heroes, and the people I watched as a kid.”
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Rasool said that the former players spoke from “a pain that may have been… understood to almost have been engineered for other purposes at the moment of transition” into a democracy, and felt that it was not too late to have a “TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) in sport”.
“What do we do, now that we’ve heard (the past players’ stories)? This TRC in sport started with Ngidi saying Black Lives Matter. It is not too late for a TRC in sport, in the sense that the truth must be told – otherwise the hunters will always write their own story… and you won’t hear the stories about Dik Abed, Lobo Abed and those kinds of people,” he said.
“The truth must be told, and we need closure on the pain that our sportspeople have had there, and have had no salve to put on it. We need healing so that we don’t fear sharing a room with certain people – like (former Springbok lock) Quinton Davids had to fear.
“We need to be able to build a basis for genuine reconciliation in sport, and genuine unity.”
A classy batsman that contributed so much to cricket at Nat, Prov and Club level @ashyp_5 has never really got the credit he deserved as an int batsman and for service to his country.Thanks for sharing a bit of your story.I am honoured and privileged to have been a part of it. https://t.co/V3LsBdxgIw— Vincent Barnes (@VincentBarnes60) July 14, 2020