Proteas spinner Tabraiz Shamsi says the recently held culture camp in the Kruger National Park helped players to understand and respect the different views in the squad.
A 32-man high-performance squad assembled at the famous Skukuza camp two weeks ago hoping to form a strong team environment and identity, which will lead to greater success on the field.
But, with Cricket South Africa in a chaotic corporate governance mess and the issue of racial bias now openly a strong concern within the organisation, the players have been able to structure their own positive outlook of future inclusive Proteas teams.
‘I think for me, the biggest thing was that as a group we realised that there’s a lot of strength in being able to communicate, rather than just sitting and assuming,’ Shamsi said.
‘Once we air out our views and understand things from the other person’s perspective, then things become a lot clearer and a lot easier for us to understand where people are coming from, where their hurt is coming from, where their unhappiness is coming from.
‘Overall, that was the biggest thing that I took away. Instead of making comments without understanding where the next person is coming from, it’s better to just sit back and listen to what their viewpoint is and then come to a conclusion yourself.’
Over the past few months the South African cricket fraternity has in certain sections been divided regarding the issue of racism in the game and support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Proteas seamer Lungi Ngidi, emerging as a strong carrier of the anti-racism message, has been well supported by fellow teammates while at the same time criticised by some former white Proteas players.
But, Shamsi echoed Ngidi’s stance that now more than ever the debate regarding racism in general society should lead to active change across the country.
‘I think it was very important for us as a group to have a discussion regarding racism and race,’ he explained.
‘Because as hard as it is to speak about things like that, the fact is that it’s a big part of South Africa due to our history. We were divided in the past and it’s important for us as a group to speak about those things.
‘In the Proteas environment, I’ve never personally experienced any racism. The past players have spoken about it and how things were not equal and stuff like that. I think even the players that did make it, had to go through some hurdles that they shouldn’t have had to experience if there was a level playing field.
‘That’s the biggest thing that we need to acknowledge and understand. We need to ensure that kind of stuff is not tolerated and taken away from the system. As a group of players, we need to create that bubble and ensure it doesn’t happen.’