No More Injustices Against Black Cricketers In SA! By Cheryl Roberts

15 Jul

When talented black African cricketer, Kagiso Rabada bowled his spectacular hat-trick on international debut he demonstrated that black African cricketers must never again be ignored and never again be victims of injustices in South African sport.

I write about victims of injustices because Black African cricketers because for too long, these cricketers  have been done in and given a raw deal over the past decades of South African cricket with non-selection of players and coaches into the national senior men’s team.

Despite black African cricketers displaying their potential at provincial level, they were always considered, through the selection lens of non- black African opinion in cricket, as ‘developing’, ‘not being ready for international play’, ‘needs to be nurtured’. They had to play cricket, waiting to be recognized and watch whilst most playing opportunities went to young white players and some coloured and Indian cricketers, but not black African players.

For over 20 years, I’ve been advocating for black (all players not white) to be recognized and acknowledged as international players. We have watched the battles to get players of colour selected. Along the way some barriers got smashed and some players made it into the national senior team. Very often the players had to struggle to keep their place because, unlike white layers like Jacques Kallis who got so many chances to proves his international caliber, the black players got just one canc. And if they ‘failed’ to bowl, bat or field, they were immediately thought of as ‘not being ready’.

But then, the black players became strong and their cricket prowess surfaced. Then arrived the fast bowling talent of Makhaya Ntini and he just couldn’t be ignored. He got a crack at international play, achieved the bowling figures which saw him become a permanent and full-time international cricketer.

There is a litany of injustices done to black African cricketers in South African cricket when it came to selection of players and coaches. If Cricket south Africa was concentrating on developing cricket, looking for talent, why has it taken so long for black African cricketers to be recognized as international cricketers?  Why are young and emerging white players given so much opportunity to establish themselves and the black cricketer pressurised to do it all on first appearance in the national team?

Already there are some opinions that see young Kagiso Rabada as needing ‘more time’ before he can be selected for Test cricket. It’s a struggle to get black cricketers selected for  Test cricket. Why is Test cricket seen as the holy preserve of white cricketers, whatever their age? And why is it that black cricketers are replaced by another black crickter and black cricketers can’t take the place of other white cricketer when they deserve to be dropped?

Sports federations in SA don’t like criticism or challenges about player representation because they don’t want to be called out for committing injustices. But damnit we must call out the wrong and condemn the injustices.

Get this! There are many emerging talented black African cricketers. They may not prove as spectacular on international debut as Kagiso Rabada but they are damn well out there. No more must South Africa’s black players be sidelined and kept out of the national cricket team. No more must black cricketers be made to feel inferior. A black cricketer, Kagiso Rabada got a chance and he proved his worth, taking a hat- trick of wickets on international debut. SA’s black cricketers have been given a draw deal over the years and never again must a black cricketer be viewed as not being ready because black cricketers are more than ready. They want the same opportunities!

 kagiso rabada

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