Thirty years after the sport was “unified”, and even though more black administrators run the game, the participation of black players has seen them sidelined, greeted with hostility, and subjected to naked racism, says the writer. Picture: Leon Lestrade
Thirty years after the sport was “unified”, and even though more black administrators run the game, the participation of black players has seen them sidelined, greeted with hostility, and subjected to naked racism, says the writer. Picture: Leon Lestrade

Veil of racism permeating cricket at all levels finally lifted

By Editorial Time of article published Jul 28, 2021

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While South African cricket has for years given off the impression that it was progressive and open to transformation, the past few weeks have finally lifted the veil of racism permeating the game at all levels.

But should we even be surprised? Cricket, like any other institution, is merely a mirror that reflects our South African reality.

Thirty years after the sport was “unified”, and even though more black administrators run the game, the participation of black players has seen them sidelined, greeted with hostility, and subjected to naked racism.

Former Model C schools have been left to unearth the next generation of black cricketers because there has hardly been development of any talent in townships. Some of our favourite cricketers have appeared before the Social Justice and Nation Building hearings, chaired by Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, to tell their stories of systemic racism in the game.

Former Western Province and Proteas' wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile told of how, as a 13-year-old, he was abandoned at the Gqeberha airport while on tour with Western Province.

Instead of staying at a hotel with the rest of his teammates, Tsolekile testified that he and his teammate Albert Nkomo were left at the airport and taken to a township.

Former Proteas spinner Paul Adams told the hearing of how he was subjected to racist abuse while playing for the Proteas, where his white teammates referred to him as a “brown s***” in a song. One of those teammates is the current South African coach, Mark Boucher who has indicated that he will respond to the allegations once he returns to South Africa from Ireland where the Proteas toured.

With so much racism permeating the team’s culture, it should come as no surprise that the Proteas have failed on countless occasions to win a major tournament. But the story of cricket is also the story of South Africa, a story of compromise around the negotiating table and accommodation.

Instead of actively tackling racist inequalities from the sports fields to the shop floor, the ANC has presided over a country in which inequality remains a gaping wound, and their remedies are the equivalent of a bandage.

The Star

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