With the Proteas once again failing to win the World Cup trophy, Cricket South Africa needs to seriously start implementing its transformation policy. South Africa has been a democracy for more than 20 years now but the national cricket team still remains predominantly white. The 15-man squad that represented South Africa at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, only contained a single black African cricketer. Aaron Phangiso was selected in the 15-man World Cup squad but didn’t play a single game.
This is the sad reality of a sport which seemingly doesn’t cater for black Africans, who make up the largest portion of the country’s population. It seems like all the top cricketing officials have just been paying lip service to the sport’s transformation policy, as we have not yielded any significant results of progress. Having one black African cricketer representing the national team is unacceptable.
It seems like white cricketers are still receiving preferential treatment with regards to selections for the national team. Cricketers such as AB De Villiers, Graeme Smith, Morne Morkel, Quinton De Kock and many more, were given chances to represent the country at a very young age despite not having proven themselves at domestic level. The Proteas selectors spotted their talent and gave them enough time to develop and fulfil their potential as cricketers, at highest level. The selectors stuck with them even when they failed and eventually with time they became better.
My question is, why can’t players of colour get the same kind of treatment? Why can’t CSA and the Proteas selectors give the same kind of exposure to young, talented black cricketers and ensure that those youngsters are given the same opportunities to develop as their white counterparts? And why are they still mainly picking from the talent that comes from the “traditional” boys’ cricketing schools, the same schools that most of the past and present white Proteas cricketers attended? When are the playing fields going to be levelled?
We have a country filled with undiscovered and untapped black cricketing talent. Yet we are only selecting from a pool of cricketers, which make up a small portion of the population. With more black representation in our national team, it will give young black kids from the townships the belief that they can one day play cricket for their country. It will also increase the popularity of the sport amongst the black youth. But at the moment, cricket is still seen as a “white sport”.
By unearthing more black cricketers, we will be increasing our talent pool of cricketers to select from. There will be more competition for places and that will raise the level of cricket being played. Unearthing and developing more black cricketers, could only bode well for the future of SA cricket. Let’s hope that the Proteas’ latest World Cup failure can be the spark that will ignite the transformation fire. Hopefully by the 2019 World Cup, we will see more black cricketers playing for the Proteas.