SA cricket legends Makhaya Ntini, Vernon Philander and Herschelle Gibbs.
SA cricket legends Makhaya Ntini, Vernon Philander and Herschelle Gibbs.

OPINION: CSA must take a firmer stand on race issues

By Stuart Hess Time of article published Jul 15, 2020

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Cricket South Africa has held three transformation indabas – the first in 2000, the most recent in 2018 – where it discussed strategies.

In 2016 there was an inquiry about concerns expressed by Black African cricketers regarding selection for the national team.

On the surface those indabas look good, all the right things are said. Cricket SA’s president Chris Nenzani said 2018 provided “a platform for an honest and a robust assessment of what has been achieved and what could have been achieved since the last indaba in 2013”. Does it feel like that now?

Having Norman Arendse, then the Lead Independent Director on the Board, chair a task team to investigate the concerns raised by Black cricketers in 2016, was again, good, on the surface, but Arendse’s team’s report is gathering dust in a cupboard somewhere.

The actual human impact of decisions taken or – most often – not taken and policies and plans not implemented is now coming to the fore.

That 2013 Indaba is significant in its timing, coming just months after Thami Tsolekile, one of the 36 signatories who came out in support of Lungi Ngidi yesterday, had publicly expressed his distrust of the then panel of national team selectors.

“The explanations I’ve got from different selectors, you wonder if they’ve been in the same meetings. I find it very hard to trust some of the selectors,” Tsolekile told The Star in December 2012, about the mixed messages he’d received concerning his non-selection for the Test series’ against New Zealand and Australia, earlier that year.

Three years later, in that letter written and signed by a number of Black African cricketers, again the issue was about selection.

What is clear from the past few days, is the human damage that has been done as a result – something Cricket SA, its indabas and reports never properly addressed.

The resolutions published following CSA’s 2013 Transformation Indaba cover a variety of areas from governance, to professional and amateur cricket, to funding.

What is clear from the words of the administrators and the experiences of the players, is that little filtered down the system, from the suits, to those strapping on pads, gloves and boots.

Ashwell Prince’s tears as he explains to how his brother, Lloyd, missed out on opportunities to display his talent at Eastern Province speak volumes. It suggests administrators have paid mere lip service to their transformation strategies, discussed and mulled over at three indabas.

And what of the country’s white players? We know where ex-players like Boeta Dippenaar, Brian McMillan, Pat Symcox and Rudi Steyn stand – they made that very clear last week. But what of the others who shared dressing rooms with many of the signatories showing support for Black Lives Matter and Ngidi? Where are they? How will they support young black players in this country so that the pain felt by so many black players in the post-isolation era, isn’t revisited upon future generations. Their support right now is critical.

There is an onus on the leadership of Cricket SA to take a much firmer stand on this issue too. Be it Nenzani in the few weeks he has left as the organisation’s president, Dr Jacques Faul for however long he remains acting CEO, and the director of cricket, Graeme Smith, who shared dressing rooms and toured with a number of the signatories.

There is a responsibility too on Cricket SA’s sponsors, from SuperSport, to New Balance, Momentum, KFC, SABC Sport, Coca-Cola, SA Breweries, ticketpro, Ram, Betway and a few others to show their support for Ngidi and this country’s black cricketers and to hold Cricket SA accountable for ensuring the sport is genuinely one for all South Africa’s people because right now, it doesn’t feel that way.


IOL Sport

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