JP Duminy, said that criticism of the team’s decision not to kneel was understandable, and something the players would need to absorb. Photo: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)
JP Duminy, said that criticism of the team’s decision not to kneel was understandable, and something the players would need to absorb. Photo: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

JP Duminy backs Proteas not kneeling as Interim Board ponders transformation targets

By Stuart Hess Time of article published Dec 3, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - The selection policy of South Africa’s national cricket sides as they relate to targets given to the government, will be on the agenda at the next meeting of Cricket South Africa’s interim board.

Interim board member, Judith February on Thursday confirmed that the previous Board’s decision to amend the targets related to the number of black players in the national sides will be reviewed.

When he announced the interim board at the end of October, Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa said all of the decisions taken by the board of directors, which resigned in the last week of that month, would be reviewed by the interim board, which is chaired by former constitutional court justice, Zak Yacoob.

Earlier this year, one of CSA’s former independent directors, Dr Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw presented Mthethwa with revised figures for the national team’s targets. Previously the national sides had to have 56% black player representation over the course of a season, with 18% representivity for black African players.

In Kula-Ameyaw’s revised figures, black players representivity for 2020/21 sits at 58%, with black African representation at 25%. The South African men’s team in the recently completed T20 International series with England, missed those targets.

For the senior mens and women’s teams the percentage targets increase incrementally over the next few years, with both teams set to have 63% black representation in the 2022/23 season and 33% black African representation.

“It is a policy decision, so it needs to come to (the interim) board,” said February. “We will be exercising our minds on it, we just haven’t got there yet. It will be put on the agenda for the next board meeting.”

Cricket SA Interim board member, Judith February. Photo: Brenton Geach

Proteas head coach Mark Boucher and national selection convenor Victor Mpitsang have both said they were told to implement the new policy. However there have been questions asked internally at CSA about how the new figures were arrived at, and what data informed those final statistics given to Mthethwa.

Cricket SA’s acting CEO, Kugandrie Govender, the organisation’s head of transformation Max Jordaan and Director of Cricket Graeme Smith are understood to be holding a meeting on Thursday regarding the figures.

The confusion around the new transformation policy comes amidst scrutiny the national mens team has faced over its decision not to kneel as a show of support for the Black Lives Matter social movement.

In a statement released by the players before the start of the T20 series with England, they state that instead of kneeling they would “continue to work together in our personal, team and public spaces to dismantle racism.” The decision they added was taken collectively “after deep dialogue and attentive consideration.”

That decision has not gone down well with broad swathes of public, with Boucher, who first mentioned before the players’ statement, coming in for severe criticism on social media.

However, the Proteas got backing from a former player, JP Duminy who said he supports the team’s choice not to kneel but added that it is imperative that they are genuine about wanting to “live” their experience.

“I read that Boucher said that they had to live what they were talking about,” said Duminy, who played 326 matches for South Africa, in an international career that spanned 11 years. “If he’s saying that, then obviously the proof is in the pudding in terms of how they live that out. It’s not an event, which is the key thing.

All kudos to them, if that is the stance they are taking. For me as an ex Protea I’m standing behind that and believing that what they are saying is the real deal.”

Former Proteas batsman JP Duminy celebtrating his 50 against India in a ODI game at Newlands stadium. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Duminy, said that criticism of the team’s decision not to kneel was understandable, and something the players would need to absorb. “There will always be somebody that is not going to be in agreement. That is unfortunately the business we operate in, someone has a different opinion, and then that’s the story. I don’t think it's a case of avoiding the controversy, it’s a difference of opinion,” he remarked.

“This will be a learning experience, that’s how we gain experience in terms of how we want to do things and seeing the responses of people - influential people. Whether it is received negatively or positively I can’t comment on that, because I’m not in the environment. They’ve got to stand united as a team, whatever decision they make and as long as they do that wholeheartedly, I’m very much for it.”

The players would have to accept that there would be critics of their decision, particularly given how other teams in cricket and other sports have made it clear that kneeling is important. On Thursday, West Indies captain Jason Holder expressed his gratefulness for New Zealand counterpart Kane Williamson’s support in deciding that both sides will kneel before each match the two teams play.

Duminy said he was following closely not just what the South African players were saying but also how they would “live out” there words rather.

“I listened intently to (Kagiso Rabada’s) interview before the first T20 international, and the word that stood out for me, was ‘process.’ I like that, because from a Proteas perspective, particularly when I was playing, living out a process of how we operate and how we live was important.”

“It’s no different from a BLM perspective, and backing each other. Everybody will come from a different perspective, on various things, because of racial differences, your background and upbringing. We all have different upbrings and will thus bring different thoughts to the table.

As long as you can have respect for one another, still love one another wholeheartedly within the team you are heading in the right direction,” explained Duminy.

@shockerhess

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