SADC cricket embracing racial integration

 

Cricketing nations in the Southern African Development Community are following in the footsteps of Zimbabwe Cricket through institutionalising a racial quota system in a bid to make the game a multi-racial sport.

The latest country to open debate over institutionalising a racial quota is South Africa while the issue has also been hotly contested in Namibia, although Namibia is a third-tier country in the cricketing world.

South African cricket is now deliberately opening avenues for black players to make their mark in the predominantly white sport in that country.

A South African integration indaba held towards the end of last year to deliberate on the need to create racial integration in the national franchise cricket league and eventually in the South African national team has since been endorsed.

Cricket South Africa has come up with an incentivised programme of action for teams in the franchise leagues who manage to field at least two black players in their games.

According to the new set up, teams with representation of black players in more than 70 percent of their structures will be re-reimbursed an amount equivalent to their contract cost for the new season.

Cricket South Africa believes an incentive-driven transformation will encourage club teams and eventually the national team to embrace racial integration in the sport that has been played in that country for more than 100 years with dominance from one race.

Meanwhile Chief Executive Officer of Cricket South Africa, Haroon Logert, in an interview with Crickinfo came short of acknowledging the new set up as a racial quota saying, “The new setup is incentive-based not quota-based.”

Since independence, only five black players (Makaya Ntini, Lenwabe Tsotsobe, Mfuneko Ngam, Monde Zondeki and Thami Tsolekile) have represented South Africa at national level despite blacks constituting 80 percent of that country’s total population.

However, in contrast, 11 mixed-race players, including Hashim Amla, Imran Tahir and Vernom Philander have made it into the South African side.

Since the colonial times in Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa cricket has been reserved for the few affluent white members of the society although a few black schools played the game.

Even making it worse has been the fact that although black schools in the three countries (Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa) have shown tremendous interest in the game, financial incapacity has kept most of the black players from reaching the ceiling in the sport.

While showing results in Zimbabwe, it remains very debatable whether the steps taken in South Africa and the debate in Namibia about racial integration in cricket will yield the required results as the issue is also met with dissent from other quotas.

However although the issue of racial integration in cricket in Namibia reached a boiling point when major sponsor MTC demanded that Cricket Namibia open up avenues for disadvantaged black players into the team, the subject is now an open issue in the country’s sporting circles.

Although the issue of racial quota in cricket has met considerable resistance in some quotas in both Namibia and South Africa, it has seen the rise of a few players, who have made it into the world’s history books in Zimbabwe in the past seven years.

Zimbabwe nurtured the likes of former national team captains Tatenda Taibu, Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya through a deliberate integration policy that allowed black players from government schools to try a hand in the sport at the highest level.

January 2014
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