Yes!South Africa’s Black Cricketers Can Play And Win In International Cricket! By Cheryl Roberts

26 Jan

IMG_6691If anything, and without dampening South Africa’s victory celebrations after winning the final Test match in a Test series already lost to England, this summer’s home Test cricket series demonstrated the truth that black people can play international cricket and demythologised the myth that white cricketers have superior cricket playing ability in SA.

The spectacular and devastating batting, bowling and fielding of South Africa’s black cricketers throughout the series (I use black to mean, African, Coloured and Indian-origin people) has been awesome. Yes, South Africa did lose the Test series, but the black cricketers played and shone in patches of individual world class cricket.

South African cricket has battled with race and colour since the sport was unified, over 20 years ago and cricket began to be administered and played under one cricket federation. It has been a constant struggle in the boardroom amongst officials, amongst the selectors, between players in conversation with each other about the playing ability of black cricketers.

This home Test series doesn’t signify the arrival of black cricketers in world cricket. The black cricketers with international ability have always been there. But they were not given the chances to demonstrate their ability and to prove themselves. It was always the white cricketers who were given much more chances.

There has been this persistent myth in the minds of many white people that white cricketers had superior cricket ability, that black cricketers had to be developed and nurtured. Over the past two decades, several White cricket captains, although they will deny this) including Adrian Kuiper, Kepler Wessels, Hansie Cronje, Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers vehemently believed in white superiority in SA’s national cricket team.

Apartheid’s players like Barry Richards, Clive Rice and many others only believe in white cricketers. According to these white cricket supremacists, blacks players are always lacking in something. Black cricketers have to struggle, battle, contest, work extra hard to be given just one chance.

But who can deny the world class playing abilities of young fast bowling sensation, Kagiso Rabada, of elegant batsman Hashim Amla, and the talent being shown by batsman and fielder Temba Bavuma? Albeit a talented player JP Duminy, has not performed in this Test series and may well be on his way out of the national team. But there will always be black and white cricketers who should perform according to their talent, but just don’t.

Caretaker captain, AB de Villiers struggles to believe in black cricket talent. He really does! When it’s a toss up between a white cricketer and black cricketer, it’s the white cricketer that AB de Villiers believes in because of his whiteness and white privilege mentality.

There is no debate when I say that black cricketers have been done in, marginalised and broken down by the mentality of whiteness and white privilege prevailing in the corridors of South African cricket.

A few months ago, Black African players themselves reached a moment of ‘we’ve had enough of being drinks carriers’ and challenged CSA in a letter written to the cricket body. Pressure had to be placed on CSA and their selectors to look beyond whiteness and see the talent of black cricketers.

Reports of white cricketers being on the verge of striking because of ‘quota players’ proves white people’s insecurities in South African sport in general and SA cricket, in particular. Why are white cricketers so keen to strike to protect their whiteness and white privilege, yet they never speak out against the marginalisation of Black African cricketers?

Get this! Blacks didn’t start being introduced to cricket with Ali Bacher’s development programmes. Black people started playing cricket over a century ago. Throughout the anti-apartheid era, there existed black cricketers of world class ability who were denied the human right of representing a democratic country.

The black cricketers are here and want to be selected for their abilities. The struggle of representation within South African cricket is still very heated and ongoing. As more black cricketers are selected, white players will become angry as their white privilege fades, in the national cricket team. This challenge must be guarded and advanced by smashing the myth of white cricketers having superior playing ability and the genuine desire to give cricketers of all colours the chance their playing abilities deserve.

Never again must Black African cricketers be overlooked, ignored and marginalised in South African cricket. Never!

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