Darryl Cullinan responds to the criticism surrounding his transformation targets comments.
The former South African cricketer had some controversial opinions on the new transformation targets and received some heavy criticism for airing his views. In an interview with ESPNCricinfo.com he made some strong comments about how the idea of transformation laws was received in his playing days, shedding some light on the team’s mixed reaction regarding the inclusion of Makhaya Ntini.
But the comments that really caused a stir were those about black youth, tip-toeing on the line of what is considered as appropriate.
‘Soccer has been the most popular sport among our black youth,’ he said. ‘If you take model-C schools, which I understand and know as government schools, they have three times more soccer fields than cricket fields because there’s a demand for it.
‘Now there’s [the problem of] logistics. When you have got a public transport system which is not efficient, it’s problematic getting from certain areas. So, a young kid [has] got to travel an hour and a half both ways to come to a cricket academy. A round trip is going to cost you R40. His mom is a single mom, domestic worker, that’s a quarter of a monthly salary, and he is on an taxi and you don’t know how safe it’s going to be.
‘Ntini is one [in] what … a hundred thousand, a million; you know what I’m trying to say. It’s quite remarkable that we still see kids coming through but if you’re going to now develop black cricketers, you need to get those numbers, and the third thing is club cricket in the townships. My thought is you’ve got to build that and, with the legacy of apartheid, it is a huge challenge.’
In an interview with Netwerk24, Cullinan defended his comments, saying that the whole interview should be reviewed before he is so harshly criticised.
‘It was a video interview and the text underneath [on the website] only summed up the interview. If people had watched and listened to the whole interview, they would have better understood the context of what I was saying.’
‘I simply tried to highlight the challenges that cricket faces due to the effects of the apartheid years. I never said that black people can’t play cricket and did not play the game historically – the fact that it was only played by a select few years ago, does not make it a sport for the masses.
‘It took many years before Afrikaners really started playing cricket – just like today there aren’t a lot of Indian people playing rugby.’
Cullinan did not retract his statement which labelled black children as not being able to travel to cricket practices and matches because their mothers are often domestic workers and unable to afford taxi fare.
‘The costs associated with cricket is an enormous additional challenge standing in the way of transformation – it’s an expensive sport and out of reach of most families in South Africa,’ he said.
‘I tried to illustrate the point by talking about a single mother who is a domestic worker. My comments were in no way meant to be negative or racist, but unfortunately most people did not understand what I tried to say.’
Photo: Lee Warren\Gallo Images