CAPE TOWN - Kicking and screaming I was dragged into the Twitter-sphere. It was something I had managed to avoid for the longest time, but such are the demands of the modern-day journalist it simply couldn’t be put off any longer.
Since succumbing to social (and job) demands, I must admit it has been quite enjoyable at times. I am not a technological dinosaur, I just prefer to either have a face-to-face debate or actually know the person I am speaking to is not hiding behind a fake account.
I have always looked on in amusement at how people could get into heated arguments on a public forum. Unfortunately, on Wednesday evening I took the bait after being trolled by a fellow journalist.
After viewing the Titans' team selection for Wednesday’s T20 Challenge semi-final against the Warriors, I posted: “In a HOME game the @Titans_Cricket with their massive squad can’t find another player of colour to replace the injured @HenryDavids19 and now play only 5 POC’s instead of 6 stipulated by @OfficialCSA!! @IOLsport @MaxJordaan3 #RamSlamT20”
I was hoping for a good cricket debate on the make-up of the Titans squad and on which black players could possibly have taken the injured Davids’ place.
Instead, this was the response I received: “Maybe you should worry more about how all the amazing transformation talent in the Cape is being wasted? Not many trophies for the Cobras lately either to boast about. And Parnell playing for the Warriors tonight??!!”
Against my better judgement, I replied with: “WOW! Absolutely nothing just said has anything to do with my tweet!!”
It was now beginning to disintegrate at a rapid rate. “Just pointing out the old saying - “get your own house in order before you start pointing fingers”. Injury happened 4 minutes before the toss. But I guess the tallest trees catch the most wind” was the rebuke.
While I wasn’t exactly sure which “house”, or that it was even possible for me to own the “house” the troller was referring to, I followed it up with this response: “I don’t even know why I am having a transformation debate with a 'senior journalist' who didn’t even recognize Russell Domingo when he was appointed Proteas assistant coach!!”
That was a low blow. A fact, but a low blow nonetheless, which prompted this reply: “I hope you’re not referring to me Zaahier. Then again, won’t be the first lies you’ve spread this week.”
In a HOME game the @Titans_Cricket with their massive squad can't find another player of colour to replace the injured @HenryDavids19 and now play only 5 POC's instead of 6 stipulated by @OfficialCSA!! @IOLsport @MaxJordaan3 #RamSlamT20 pic.twitter.com/hGdFyY5BGj
Instead of reacting with further vitriol which surely would have ended up with lawyers having to intervene, I realised that I needed to be the adult in the conversation and sent a private WhatsApp message instead.
This entire drama, though, distracted me from my initial point regarding the Titans and their transformation record over the years.
The Titans are a wonderful, professionally run franchise. They have a tremendous ground in SuperSport Park, and continue to attract corporate sponsorship even during these lean economic times. All of this, of course, comes on the back of a very successful team.
However, for a franchise with all these qualities, they still do not get it right in terms of transformation. Besides Wednesday night’s debacle, they do adhere to the Cricket SA guideline stipulating six players of colour, of which three must be black African.
But unfortunately, that’s where it ends. I'd be hugely surprised if the Titans have at any stage since the guidelines were implemented two seasons ago surpassed the actual six-player target, which teams like the Cobras, Lions, Warriors and Dolphins regularly do.
Equally, the Titans continue to struggle to field Black players who have graduated through their own youth structures. Of the original six meant to play on Wednesday, Davids, Farhaan Berhardien and Malusi Siboto hail from the Cape. Lungi Ngidi is from KZN and Tabraiz Shamsi from Joburg.
It is not only now that this is happening, but goes back to players such as Alfonso Thomas and Shafiek Abrahams being the first to make the journey up north.
The fact that these players are afforded game time and a chance to excel, which they may not initially have had at their original franchises, is a credit to CSA’s transformation policy that allows players opportunities all around the country.
But the Titans should not hide behind this fact and seriously need to look into their systems and find out why they are not producing their own black players.
While I understand the selection headaches the Titans have had during this T20 Challenge due to all the national players being available, they have finally unearthed one of their own in Rivaldo Moonsamy. The the 21-year-old top-order batsman deserves every opportunity at franchise level in the same way another youngster like Aiden Markram was afforded the chance.
Although he is still finding his feet at T20 level, Moonsamy averages 49.96 in first-class cricket, so I was very happy to see the former SA Under-19 star receiving some game time in the controversial “dead rubber” against the Dolphins.
It was for this reason that I fully understood Titans coach Mark Boucher’s explanation for fielding a “B” team once his side had qualified for the RamSlam semi-final, and I paid no attention to the murmurs in and around Cape Town that the Titans were involved in any form of skulduggery.
Black players don’t reduce the quality of a team. The Cobras proved that when they beat the “unbeatable” Titans last Friday with eight black players in their starting XI. It was the Titans' strongest side - barring AB de Villiers - while Vernon Philander was unavailable for the Cobras too.
The Titans will most likely go on to win the RamSlam, but there is still lots of hard work to be done at SuperSport Park.