Prince tells SJN he wants to see CSA find better ways to select teams
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JOHANNESBURG – Ashwell Prince told the Social Justice and Nation Building hearings that South African cricket needed to accept an international standard for players, coaches and the administrators to adhere to if the Proteas were going to be one of the best teams in the world.
“I want to appeal to Cricket South Africa; we have got to find ways to select better cricket teams. From junior age groups, right to the top,” Prince said in his testimony on Monday. His assertion came amidst a debate with one of the SJN’s legal advisors, Adv. Sandile July about why racial targets still need to form part of team selection in South Africa, 30 years after unity.
Cricket SA’s current stipulations regarding the racial composition of a starting eleven, demand that three black African players must be in each team that takes to the field. Prince himself got into trouble with that policy two seasons ago when he picked a Cape Cobras starting XI, with seven black players, two of whom were black African, thus falling short of CSA’s policy and leading to a disciplinary hearing at CSA.
“In cricket in this country, are we really going to have an environment where my son’s friends, who are 12, 13, 14 are not going to get a game of cricket because they are white, or coloured or Indian. Is that the future of our cricket?”
Citing how, coloured and India players, who were oppressed under Apartheid, faced discrimination now – leading to one case which Prince highlighted, in which an Indian player in KwaZulu Natal, was identified as a black African – Prince said Cricket SA couldn’t have a selection policy based on a pre-conceived notion about the racial make up of a starting XI.
“Cricket SA might have a picture in their mind, of a team that has so many white players, so many black players, then ‘we feel we have the perfect transformation mix.’ The problem with that is, if you continue to pick players who are performing to a lower level than other players but those other players cannot get in the team because they are not the right colour you are going to forever have a problem.”
Adv July said that players’ race could not be ignored in the current South African cricket climate.
“If you want to transform, then you have to transform from what is not right to what is right and in that case, you cannot ignore the colour issue,” said July. “When you don’t have capable black people, you create them. There should not be an exception... right now it is an exception when black people play for the Proteas. That is where the problem is. You can’t address it without looking at the colour issue, we need to train them and we need to give them skills.”
Prince replied that transformation created a problem in which black players would continue to be viewed as only being picked because they were black. “The policymakers that sit in offices, in high positions, I don’t think they appreciate the amount of abuse, mental and verbal abuse that players face, from their own teammates or the opposition even on the international stage.
“Everytime a black player, coloured or Indian is selected, it’s because he’s a quota, you don’t understand what that player has to deal with. You don’t want a player to suffer that. I had to deal with it from my own teammates and players from around the world,” said Prince.
“Those things would be said by people who are anti-transformation and they see anything that seeks to change the status quo as a threat to their comfort,” July replied. “There is this notion, that competence goes with whiteness, so if you are black you are incompetent, until you prove yourself otherwise.”
“How do you shake off that stigma,” asked Prince?
“Over time,” said July, “it is unfortunate.”