SJN Hearings: Paul Adams scared of being victimised
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JOHANNESBURG - Paul Adams told the Social Justice and Nation Building hearings, that while its process was crucial for South African cricket, he had still been concerned about testifying.
Adams told the hearings, chaired by the SJN ombud, Adv Dumisa Ntsebeza, that South African cricket needed the project to provide a platform for black cricketers in particular to voice their grievances about the discrimination they suffered within the system post unity.
“I’m personally very nervous about this process. “I’m scared of being victimised, ” said Adams, who played 45 Tests and 24 One-Day Internationals in a professional career that spanned 13 years, but was cut short, when through lack of game time he retired citing “mental blowout.”
“I’ve been holding these things inside for a very long time. This is the first time I'm going public with what I’ve experienced as a player and a coach.”
Adams detailed in very blunt tones the discrimination he endured, how he was viewed as a player who couldn’t be trusted, was mocked inside his own team, and how former Proteas players until recently stilled racially abused coaches and players involved in the current system.
He described a WhatsApp group created in 2019 for Proteas players in the 1990s and 2000s, that was made up of 43 individuals, with just three black players - himself, Herschelle Gibbs and Robin Peterson - among them.
Following a loss by the SA under-19 team at the Under-19 World Cup last year, one of the participants - a white player - on the group, wrote: “ ‘Hoe lank gaan hulle daai aap daar hou? (How long are they going to keep that monkey there?)’” - a reference Adams said to the then under-19 coach, Lawrence Mahatlane.
“The moment that went on, Graeme Smith, to his credit wrote: ‘This comment is extremely inappropriate and compromises everyone on this group,’” Adams told the SJN.
“This is about people just freely saying what they want ... you can’t just use those words. It’s on a Whatsapp Group, it’s a public forum, it’s disgusting what he said. People show their true colours and you’ve got to be aware of it.”
Asked what he did after seeing the post, Adams said: “A lot of players exited the group. I was removed, but the group is still open, and you can see everything that was written there. I knew that the day was going to come where this has to be seen, this has to be viewed.”
“I don’t know if another group was created after this. How do you know that they aren’t talking differently on there? They must come and explain. Do they talk about us, black cricketers, like that all the time? Is that their view? If they’ve got an issue, they need to air it, and say they are blatantly racist or not. Or do they want to change?”
Adams stressed at various stages throughout his testimony that he viewed the SJN process, established by CSA last year after a call by Lungi Ngidi for the Proteas to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, exposed an undercurrent of racism within South African cricket, as critical to the future of the sport in the country.
“The SJN process should be a catalyst to enhance the delivery of quality players, from all backgrounds and communities through to the top, through equal opportunity.”
“This process can only be for the betterment of the game, we are not here to break it down, we are here to build,” said Adams.
“I hope some of what I’ve described and the incidents I’ve spoken about provides a means for a way forward. I’m not out on a witch-hunt for anyone. The language used, the things I have seen …. can we have a better way going forward? That language, the words used, the incidents we saw, must not happen again, we need to find a better way.”