• Taking a stand

    It’s about time black players started standing up for themselves. They have more power than they realise.

    It has emerged that a group of unknown black players wrote a letter to Cricket South Africa to air their disappointment at the lack of opportunities for them at national level.

    And before you bring up the Bafana Bafana argument, think about it for a minute. Bafana Bafana are already transformed and representative of the demographics of South Africa. That, after all, is the point of transformation. So to say there should be more white players playing for Bafana Bafana is wrong and uninformed.

    The players, calling themselves ‘Black cricketers in unity’ say they are ‘sick and tired’ of getting picked for national squads, but then failing to get into the starting XI.

    The most recent example they give is a valid one. Dean Elgar was flown to India after JP Duminy was injured and played in the final ODI despite Khaya Zondo already being there as a back-up specialist batsman.

    The media failed to scrutinise the selection at the time and it remains unclear why Elgar was picked ahead of Zondo. People have argued it’s because Elgar offers a spin bowling option, but the left-armer didn’t bowl a ball in Mumbai.

    People also point to Elgar’s superior first-class and List A record, but if that is the case why did Zondo go on tour and not Elgar? Selecting a player for a tour suggests he is rated by the selectors and there is trust in his abilities to perform when called upon. Which begs the question: Would Zondo have played ahead of Elgar if it wasn’t a series-deciding game?

    If the answer is yes, it validates another point in the letter which states ‘black players are not trusted to perform under pressure and fulfil leadership roles’.

    Aaron Phangiso should have played at least one game at the World Cup. There is no valid reason why he could not have played against a team like the UAE.

    This is not only a problem in South African cricket. SA Rugby have the same issue and the worst thing is, these governing bodies don’t seem to get it because they keep on repeating the same mistakes.

    It is ironic that black players feel a need to open a dialogue with CSA regarding the opportunities at national level when a black man, Linda Zondi, is the convener of selectors and Ashwell Prince, a former Proteas batsmen, is on the selection panel.

    For too long black players have played along, getting picked for teams when they know they shouldn’t be there, or getting picked on merit and then not getting a chance to prove themselves.

    They have been used as political pawns but you can only be used as a pawn if you allow it and are willing. It is unlikely to change until black players take a stand and say enough is enough.