A group of 31 former black Proteas players and five senior professional coaches have thrown their support behind Lungi Ngidi and the ever-growing Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
Ngidi, who was recently named the SA Men’s ODI and T20I Cricketer of the Year, told reporters last week that he will encourage his Proteas teammates to take a united stand against racism.
His comments, though, weren’t entirely welcomed by former players Boeta Dippenaar and Pat Symcox, who both took aim at Ngidi’s stance, claiming the fast bowler should fight for ‘All Lives Matter’.
While, on Friday, current Cape Cobras head coach Ashwell Prince took to Twitter to express his thoughts and personal experiences of the worrying trend of racism in South Africa’s cricketing structures, while he also shared a heartfelt testimony with Pommy Mbangwa on an Instagram Live chat on Monday.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the big group of players and coaches echoed similar concerns saying they are not too surprised by the comments made by Dippenaar and Symcox.
‘We commend Lungi Ngidi for supporting Black Lives Matter – and we’d like to add our support for it too.
‘We note the criticism aimed at Lungi for expressing his views and we hope that Cricket South Africa (CSA), together with fellow cricketers – both present and past – will come out strongly in support of BLM.
‘We note too that the most outspoken criticism directed at Ngidi has come via former players such as Pat Symcox, Boeta Dippenaar, Rudi Steyn, Brian McMillan and others, and we urge that their views be challenged. We are not surprised at their comments.
‘Given South Africa’s well-known past, black cricketers have borne the brunt of subtle and overt racist behaviour for many years, including from some colleagues. Consequently, there is a need to understand how white privilege feeds into the perpetuation of these old attitudes and assumptions.’
The group includes big names such as Vernon Philander, Herschelle Gibbs, Alviro Petersen and Makhaya Ntini, just to name a few.
With the inaugural Solidarity Cup set to take place in Centurion this coming Saturday on International Nelson Mandela Day, the group has furthered the quest for CSA to take a firm stand in support of the BLM movement.
‘Our attitude, mistakenly we now believe, has always been to say “These are teething problems, and that these will be resolved if we are patient”,’ continued the statement.
‘But after almost three decades of cricket unity, the views expressed from one side of the racial divide are still very much part of our lives, and we now believe “teething problems” cannot be allowed to continue for this long,’ the statement added.
‘We see this as an opportunity for CSA to be unequivocal about its position and to make sure the problem is confronted, and we also invite our fellow white cricketers to join in this move to defend human dignity.
‘Colour doesn’t matter in cricket,’ says former cricketer #AshwellPrince, as he talks about prevalent racism in South Africa during a heartfelt chat with @mmbangwa#SouthAfricaCricket #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/oYe8ySloe1
— Cricbuzz (@cricbuzz) July 13, 2020
‘We represent, or have represented, South Africa on merit. Far too many white South Africans cannot accept that black cricketers have proved, time without end, that they are good enough to play at the highest level.
‘We want to remind South Africans that as recently as 2017, we were told that a South African sister sport, rugby, was “dead” – killed by “transformation”. But guess what? South African rugby won a World Cup last year. We cannot recall anyone suggesting that the victory was due to transformation.
‘Why is transformation always rammed down the throats of national teams when they lose, but never when they win? Can there be equal treatment, please?’
Last week CSA, though, stated that it stands in solidarity with the BLM movement, acting CEO Jacques Faul adamant about being more representative of the whole of country.
But, according to this group it is extremely important for the governing body to be more transparent and diverse towards all races in the country.
‘It is important to bring these into the open, and for CSA to support black cricketers who come forward to air their stories. Here we also include our women colleagues.
‘We live in a beautiful, diverse country, but where the playing fields are still far from level, and the transformation of cricket and people’s lives should be of paramount importance.
‘We are determined that future generations should not have to experience the pain we have had to endure, and that no South African cricketer should be discriminated against in the future.
‘We support Lungi Ngidi … we support #BLM and, in this week that we remember Nelson Mandela’s birthday, we believe that, with honesty and sincerity all-round, lingering racism in cricket and our beautiful country can be tackled once and for all – for the sake of every child and every cricketer in South Africa.’
The statement was undersigned by:
1 Makhaya Ntini, 2 Vernon Philander, 3 Ashwell Prince, 4 Paul Adams, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Charl Langeveldt, 7 Mfuneko Ngam, 8 Robin Peterson, 9 Aaron Phangiso, 10 Justin Ontong, 11 Herschelle Gibbs, 12 Roger Telemachus, 13 Wayne Parnell, 14 Monde Zondeki, 15 Omar Henry, 16 Alfonso Thomas, 17 Victor Mpitsang, 18 Henry Davids, 19 Loots Bosman, 20 Henry Williams, 21 Alviro Petersen, 22 Thandi Tshabalala, 23 Rory Kleinveldt, 24 Thami Tsolekile, 25 Dane Piedt, 26 Garnett Kruger, 27 Shafiek Abrahams, 28 Lonwabo Tsotsobe, 29 Eddie Leie, 30 Imraan Khan, 31 Ethy Mbhalati, 32 Geoffrey Toyana, 33 Wandile Gwavu, 34 Rivash Gobind, 35 Mandla Mashimbyi, 36 Faiek Davids.