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White Cricketers Fearful Of Black Cricket Talent And Selection In South Africa By Cheryl Roberts

6 Jan

White Cricketers Leaving South Africa Because White Privilege In South African  Cricket Has Been De-Mobilised

When the blacks in cricket (all those not white skinned or white) were inhumanely and unjustly ignored, marginalised, almost ostracised and used largely as development fodder in South Africa’s post-apartheid era cricket, white people never spoke out for their representation and selection. When black cricketers got selected and given an ‘opportunity’ to play provincial and national selection, whites doubted the black player’s ability to play internationally. Now that the black cricketers, after much protest and anger and vehement calls for black recognition in SA cricket, have not only broken the selection barriers, but are performing world class and match winning feats, white cricketers are feeling un

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SA International Cricketer Temba Bavuma (photo by Cheryl Roberts)

easy, almost getting terrified.

This uneasiness has nothing to do with their acknowledgement of black player talent and cricket prowess; its the truth getting told to themselves that BLACK  CRICKETERS  CAN  PLAY  AND PERFORM  INTERNATIONALLY.

Granted, elite sports persons treat professional sport as a job that gives them an income and so they move around and take on increased and lucrative playing contracts. So when South African internationals move, because of what is a perceived as better income, they are behaving as opportunistic and mercenary sports persons. In the era of professional, capitalist society, that is their right.

It has now again occurred with two of South Africa’s white cricketers, Kyle Abbott and Riley Roussouw who have opted for contracts in another country but which also prohibits them from representing their country whilst under this playing contract.

South Africa’s elite rugby players, most of them Springboks have over the years been choosing the option of playing outside South Africa because they earn much more money and also, which they don’t admit, because they fear black player selection. Abbott and Roussouw re not the first white cricketers; there have been several before them. These white people in sport use their ancestral lineage of countries outside South Africa to get the sports recognition they assume they deserve ahead of black sports persons.Then they speak out, like England’s adopted Kevin Petersen and chant against blacks playing international cricket as if cricket is white people’s sole preserve.

Let’s unpack this with honesty and integrity. Now that black cricketers in both coaching and player spheres are being justly recognised and selected, representatives of the white privilege brigade in SA cricket are beginning to feel uncomfortable; this is something coming on from a long time ago.

Exemplifying racism and racial privilege, they have screamed and shouted out about what they termed the ‘political selection’ through the quota policy, of black cricketers as if cricket in South Africa is the preserve and ownership of their white privilege.

Over 20 years ago, coming out of their indoctrinated and privileged apartheid lives that subordinated and oppressed black people, the white cricket group struggled to believe in black cricket talent. For white people, blacks in cricket meant they had to be in perpetual development programmes and events, shown as fodder for white corporates to sponsor and keep alive white cricket, whilst throwing some money at development blacks in cricket.

Now that the black cricketers have not only taken their opportunities and are proving they can play and perform, several of them with admiable feats ad achievements, the white cricketers are beginning to feel they are being dealt unfairly for black numbers and selection.

No! White cricketers in SA are not being treated unjustly or unfairly. They are selected to play according to their worth and prowess.And they must perform; failure to do so leads to selection of inform provincial and emerging players. And the players who are claiming selection places are the black players from across South Africa.

So how does the white cricket group interpret this? They don’t rightfully and honestly acknowledge the worth of black cricket talent in SA; they go on rants that throw de-humanising arrows at black cricketers as being mere quota players and political selections. Although, screaming and shouting down black cricketers while protecting their inherited and perceived white privilege, this white cricket group has no protest power.

This is because white privilege in SA cricket selection has been arrested, convicted and de-mobilised. Years ago the quota policy of certain numbers of black players forced selection to recognise black cricket talent. Black cricketers came through provincial cricket and into the national team, albeit in small numbers. One black player was supposed to appease protest calls for black cricket recognition and advancement. White players, several of them mediocre and favoured, were still protected and given much more space, encouragement and opportunities to develop internationally while black cricketers were too quickly discarded as not being internationally ready.

When white cricketers look around and see the increasing rate of selection of black players at youth and senior level, they see their white privilege being attacked and eliminated, not by quota policies but world class black talent. Now their white privilege mindset, so ingrained in their privileged lives, begins to tell them they are being discarded and ignored for black political sports representation in a country that is black majority governed. Now they are shifting their presence elsewhere, out of the country where they developed their cricket.

Yes, it’s the player’s prerogative; there’s no restrictions on movement from one country or club to another. Elite and professionals do this. When players do this, some acknowledge it’s for security and their future incomes. But never has a white player honestly and correctly said that the increasing black cricket talent is rightfully being acknowledged and he’s scared of not being adequate anough to get international selection.

This won’t be the last of white cricketers taking up lucrative contracts outside SA. There’ll be much more in the years to come. At the same time, we should see much more black players playing international cricket at youth and senior levels. But Cricket South Africa’s officialdom must not give in to white privilege fears and aspirations and white corporates who want to control and manipulate white power of cricket in SA. White privilege in SA cricket has been effectively de-mobilised and it must never be allowed root to flourish and grow.