Thandi Tshabalala on tour with the Proteas in Sri Lanka. Picture: AFP
Thandi Tshabalala on tour with the Proteas in Sri Lanka. Picture: AFP

SJN Hearings: Thandi Tshabalala wanted Proteas to lose because of ’false facade’

By Stuart Hess Time of article published Jul 20, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - JOHANNESBURG - Thandi Tshabalala, who played four One-Day Internationals for the Proteas, said Tuesday that he couldn’t not support the men’s national team given the experiences of racial discrimination he endured as part of the team in the mid-2000s.

Tshabalala was testifying at Cricket SA’s Social Justice and Nation Building hearings, telling the ombudsman, Adv Dumisa Ntsebeza and his assistants, that he never felt welcome in the Proteas dressing room.

The off-spinner, now 36 years old, played two ODIs against Ireland and two more against Zimbabwe between June and August in 2007.

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“After my experiences in the Proteas set-up and those of my closest friends, I felt that as a South African I could not support the team that portrayed a false image in public, that it was a united South African team,” said Tshabalala.

“It was a team that had a false facade. Since (my time in the team) I have rejoiced at every Proteas downfall. I believe that if the South African team had succeeded, then that success would not have been the way that a South African national team should succeed.”

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Tshabalala, also outlined how a group of senior players, he called the ‘Big 5’ essentially ran the national team, during his brief period as part of various squads, including the Test group that played a short series in Sri Lanka in 2006.

Roger Telemachus and Aaron Phangiso had testified last week about the ‘Big 5’ saying, they ‘ran’ the team having a say in selection and strategy, and that they couldn’t be dropped.

Tshabalala, who spent the majority of his domestic career playing for Free State and the Knights franchise, said the ‘Big 5’ were manipulative. “They would find a way to give a reason for your exclusion, that made no sense.”

While he didn’t endure any outright racism as part of the national team, Tshabalala said it was the “small experiences”, that made him feel that he didn’t belong.

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“You would think that as senior players, they would be more welcoming of a young player coming into the side, to help him. No one ever invited you out for a meal, I never felt I could go and sit with one of the ‘Big 5’or just generally feel wanted within the team.”

“There was one instance when I boarded the team bus, and there were just some senior white players sitting there, and normal, good manners says you greet people, I did that with one senior player, who was part of the ‘Big 5’ and all I got was a player turning his head to look elsewhere.”

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The majority of senior players showed no interest in accommodating you. You felt uncomfortable,” said Tshabalala.

“It’s always been difficult to have pride in the Proteas, because for me they are people who caused so much damage, who turned a dream of mine into a nightmare.”

The hearings will continue this week, with former left-arm wrist-spinner Paul Adams and former opening batsman, Loots Bosman, among those scheduled to testify later this week.

@shockerhess

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