The present racial quota policy of the United Cricket Board of South Africa, which requires South African cricket teams to include a minimum number of coloured players is set to cause the sport to self-destruct before it has the opportunity to achieve the purpose for which it was implemented. Under current policy,
provincial cricket teams are required to consist of no-less-than, three coloured players and the national team, at least one coloured and one black.
Formulated to address the lack of opportunities for coloured players during the apartheid era, whereby, the sport of cricket was seen to be an elitist whites only affair with coloured players denied the opportunity of playing alongside their white counterparts, the present policy looks set to achieve nothing more than introducing a new era of racially based discrimination in South African society, the only difference being, this time it is white players who are being discriminated against because of their skin colour.
During the recent South Africa versus Australia test match series, several selections to the South African team were imposed upon selectors and team captain Shaun Pollock, to ensure the policy of including coloured players was strictly adhered to. Although not an automatic selection on form for the first test in Perth, Makhaya Ntini, was included at the insistence of the UCBSA to fulfil the requirement of the selection of two coloured players, the other player being, the incumbent opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs.
Team captain Shaun Pollock, opposed the selection of Ntini for the first test, purely from the perspective that he was not a player of the required standard or form to ensure he was able to compete against the Australian juggernaut and perform at the required standard of intense international competition to ensure team success. Regardless of the reasons given by Pollock, his decisions and opinions as team captain were overruled by those of the UCBSA, and Ntini was included with resulting consequences for both the team and the individual player. His performance during the test can only be described as a total shocker and there is no doubt it would have left deep psychological scars on him, which are likely to affect future performances. Without selecting the appropriate and or best team, South Africa suffered what can only be described as a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Aussies in Perth and one of the standout performances of the test, was the actual non-performance by Ntini.
Obviously, those making the decisions at the UCBSA are not concerned whether or not the national team is able to remain competitive in international competition, but appear hell bent on ensuring the inclusion of coloured players is adhered to, no matter the consequences for South African cricket or the individual players concerned. This was further evidenced by the actions of Percy Sonn, President of the UCBSA, when he overruled the selection of Jacques Rudolph for the third test in Sydney and demanded he be replaced with Justin Ontong, purely and simply because the selection of Rudolph would have meant, only one coloured player , Herschelle Gibbs, would have been in the team. Without further consideration to the fact Rudolph was selected on form to ensure the teams success in Sydney, Sonn, reversed the decision of selectors and included Ontong at the expense of Rudolph.
The actions of Sonn, had such a huge impact on the morale of the team, it clearly reflected once again in their poor performance on the field against the Australians. Before Pollock and his men even walked onto the ground at Sydney, the test had basically been taken away from them by the actions of Sonn who later commented "they had nothing left to lose anyway", made in reference to the teams two previous defeats at the hands of the Aussies.
There is no doubt, not one iota of consideration is being given to the potential performance of the team when these decisions are being made, nor is any consideration being given to the fact, the replacement players just may not be up-to the standard required of competing at the international level. Representative players are generally selected on past performances, current form and talent. Selections are generally made to ensure that every possible chance of success is afforded the team and individual players. Many factors are taken into account when selecting players and I can guarantee, no attention is paid to skin colour, unless of course your name is Percy Sonn.
If a coloured player was dropped from the team to ensure the selection of a white player, many people would cry racial discrimination, however, when Percy Sonn decides to drop a white player and replace him with a coloured player, this is acceptable. Well, I'm not sure what planet Percy and his supporters come from, but in my eyes, this is racial discrimination, pure and simple. It can't be called anything else! We really have to ask ourselves, is this what Nelson Mandella spent all those years in prison for?
Already we are witnessing a backlash in South African cricket. Exceptionally talented players who would normally develop into national representatives are deserting the sport and South Africa in droves to take up appointments in English County cricket, or anywhere else that will have them, because the current policy of including four coloured players at the local level is having such an impact on the quality of cricket and opportunities for white players that the competition is becoming akin to the quality of a social match played by drunken louts at the local oval. A number of current national representative players, ex-players, officials and ex-officials have spoken out about how the current policy is destroying South African cricket under the stewardship of Percy Sonn, and there has even been talk of a revolt amongst current test players with calls for them to boycott decisions of the UCBSA, to which there has been great resistance, at least, at this time anyway, but we should not be surprised if we see some action in this area very soon.
Unless the UCBSA, Percy Sonn, and those who make such repugnant and discriminatory racial policies, are reigned in and able to overcome their hangovers from apartheid days and realise that a sportsman or woman should only earn representative selection based on talent and not their skin colour, then, we may very well see a system similar to apartheid once again applied to another group within a national community.
One can only say this: If present policies are allowed to continue and Percy Sonn, permitted to take South African cricket into the future, the sport as we know it is doomed. Whether a person is black, white, green or orange, his or her skin colour should have no impact on the opportunities available to that individual, nor should they suffer any disadvantage as a result.
The UCBSA would be much better served by a President, who is able to ensure the development of cricket and it's opportunities at the grass roots level and in those communities who previously lacked access to the sport, rather than employing a person such as Percy Sonn who is prepared to enlist the tactics which are comparable with what we are presently seeing employed in Zimbabwe, by that other imbecile and racist hypocrite Robert Mugabe (Video, requires Real Player) and his so-called war veterans.
Our cricket discussion forum is always very vocal about issues such as racism in cricket and this one has been no exception. Join in and have your say now! Cricket Discussion Forum