TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
YOU are cricket’s transformation watchdog, and you have the power to bring lapses in Cricket SA’s (CSA) efforts to make the national team look more like the nation to the notice of the highest authorities.
In fact you have already done so. And you would be forgiven for thinking the authorities have taken enough notice of your pro-action to hand you a responsibility you considered theirs.
A ministry statement on Tuesday after a meeting between sports minister Fikile Mbalula and CSA’s board on Monday said there was “general agreement that glaring gaps and inadequacies in the policy that are in conflict with the sports barometer and transformation charter” were being seen in cricket.
Asked what those gaps and inadequacies were, sports ministry spokesperson Esethu Hasane said, “In most cases these are raised by the public in terms of a Proteas team that is still not as reflective (of the demographics of the population) and that transformation is slow.
“What the minister meant is that CSA’s board and chief executive must try to check where the gaps are, and that people still believe transformation is slow 21 years after democracy.”
In the 32 matches SA have played across all formats since the 2015 World Cup, they have fielded six players of colour once, five and four in 15 games each, and three once.
This season, for the first time since Makhaya Ntini and Mfuneko Ngam played against New Zealand at the Wanderers in January 2001, SA included two black African players in the same test XI: Temba Bavuma and Kagiso Rabada.
CSA’s stated race quota – which they semanticise by calling it a “target” – is at least four players of colour in every SA match.
“The CSA delegation offered to undertake a consultation process, within its structures, aimed at policy review and closing the gaps in line with the memorandum of agreement signed by the federation with the minister to achieve transformation targets,” the statement said.
“The CSA board further committed to discuss the principle of merit selection in relation to the quality of opportunity.”
Tied to that issue are the concerns raised by Black Cricketers in Unity (BCU) in November about black players struggling to get a game for SA despite being included in national squads.
“CSA informed the minister that all the grievances lodged through the (BCU) petition are receiving priority attention at the highest level,” the statement said. “The minister’s office will be presented with updates every step of the way on developments in this regard.”
Hasane said Mbalula took BCU’s views “very seriously” because it is “a matter that needs serious attention”, but that the minister respected “the autonomy of CSA as a board and cannot get involved in its investigations and processes because that would amount to political interference”.
According to Hasane, CSA’s match-fixing investigation was ongoing. The statement said Mbalula had offered CSA “the services of state investigative agencies” – which Hasane said meant the Hawks.
Asked for his response to the statement CSA president Chris Nenzani said, “This represents the outcome of the meeting and I have no further comment.”