Johannesburg - The former men’s Proteas team manager, Dr Mohammed Moosajee told the Social Justice and Nation Building hearings that Cricket SA’s quota/target system had created a “comfort zone” for certain black players who were selected for the national team.
Moosajee was national side’s manager from 2008 to 2019, and used the selection of an unfit Lonwabo Tostsobe for a tour to Sri Lanka in 2013, as an example of how black players were given preferential treat because of the need to have a certain number of players in the squad. He said the quota system had proved beneficial in helping to provide opportunities for the likes of Makhaya Ntini, Herschelle Gibbs, Ashwell Prince, Hashim Amla, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi. “They were undoubtedly good enough, but they may not have been given the necessary opportunities, if it was not for the quotas / targets,” Moosajee told the hearings.
However on the flipside, Moosajee explained how players took advantage of the system, and knew they were “undroppable.”
“Quotas/targets have created a comfort zone for certain players, who had become “undroppable”, because their inclusion in a team is necessary to meet the quotas/targets. A few of these players allowed their fitness levels to wane and were guilty of disciplinary misdemeanours, but these misdemeanours went unpunished, because there were concerns that the quotas/targets would not be met.”
Tsotsobe had testified in July, that he had continually faced discrimination even as he rose to become the no.1 bowler in the ODI format in 2012. “As opposed to being discriminated against for being black, Mr Tsotsobe benefited from being black,” Moosajee told the SJN.
“An example; he was initially left out of the Proteas squad for the 2013 tour to Sri Lanka; at the time (then Proteas coach) Russell Domingo was quoted as saying, ‘he had massive concerns about Lopsy’s form, fitness and possibly his work ethic.”
Moosajee provided documentation indicating that Tsotsobe had failed numerous mandatory fitness tests. “In a four year period he had failed 15 out of 15 skinfold and five out of seven fitness tests, which were objective tests that were necessary for selection at the time. These tests cannot be manipulated. .
“I am aware of occasions where the criteria was actually relaxed only for (Tsotsobe) so that he could pass the fitness tests and be eligible for selection.”
“The decision to leave Mr Tsotsobe out of the touring squad (for Sri Lanka in 2013) was reversed by the Cricket SA Board, as there were no other black South African cricketers in the touring squad and Mr Tostsobe travelled with the team.”
Moosajee also pointed out that black players weren't always disciplined in the same way as their white teammates. “There has been a suggestion that black players are dealt with more severely than white players for misdemeanours, this was not the case during my time as Proteas team manager from 2008 to 2019. By way of example, attached is a note citing five different misdemeanours by a single black player - ordinarily a player would receive a warning after the first incident and would have faced disciplinary charges when the second incident occurred; the Proteas were keen to have the player in the squad at the time as his inclusion was necessary to meet the quota targets. This player was treated with kid gloves.
He was only disciplined on the sixth occasion and the sanctioned included the player consulting with specialists at CSA’s cost to assist and to guide him,” Moosajee explained.
In explaining how he felt the sport should move forward, Moosajee said a unified approach with understanding from across race and social boundaries needed to be adopted urgently. "Some White players and administrators still need to appreciate the value of diversity, the need to level the playing fields and to break down barriers," said Moosajee.
"Some Black players and administrators also need to recognise that they have contributed to further divisions in our societies and need to be more inclusive and recognise that good people from all our communities are prepared to be sacrificial leaders and contribute to the desperately needed transformation agenda."