Proteas” feel delicate balancing act getting results

December 12th, 2008 - 12:38 pm ICT by ANI  

Johannesburg, Dec.12 (ANI): Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief Gerald Majola believes that the decade-old contentious racial quota system - known as “targeted transformation” has produced the results that it was designed for.
The Age quotes Majola as saying the target for the Proteas this season is “a minimum of four black players on the field and a minimum of seven black players in a squad of 15″.
By “black players”, lovers of the sport should read non-whites.
The policy has survived despite the fierce protests of some players and even flat denials from others that it is still actually put into practice.
True to the policy, seven non-white players arrived at Perth airport last Sunday in South Africa’’s 15-man squad, including vice-captain and former fill-in skipper Ashwell Prince.
The others are Ntini, Robin Peterson, Jean-Paul Duminy, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Monde Zondeki and the bearded Muslim Hashim Amla.
Amla, Ntini and Prince are all likely to play in next week’’s first Test - leaving the Proteas one short of their target.
Prince predicts confidently it won”t be long before more non-white players force their way into the side - on merit.
But South Africa’’s selection guidelines have never been far from controversy as the Rainbow Nation seeks to balance the need to redress inequity caused by past racism with the needs of producing a winning cricket team.
Prince was among a group of players who sent a letter to CSA in 2007 demanding a quick death for artificial selection policies.
In March this year, fiery pacer Andre Nel, a favourite with Australian fans, was excluded from South Africa’’s squad for an Indian tour to meet quotas of non-white players.
Charl Langeveldt, a pace bowler of mixed race chosen to replace Nel, quit the tour as a result of the tension within the camp and black fast bowler Monde Zondeki went instead.
England captain Mike Atherton wrote in The Sunday Telegraph that, when captain Graeme Smith wanted to leave Ntini out of a crucial match in the 2007 World Cup against England in Barbados, he first had to have a lengthy one-on-one meeting with CSA boss Majola.
And it was in Australia on the 2001-02 tour when the now-deceased Percy Sonn, who was South Africa’’s cricket supremo at the time, intervened to demand the selection of Justin Ontong instead of white batsman Jacques Rudolph.
“It was clear that colour and not merit was the overriding concern,” Atherton says.
Asked this week if a similar selection ruling could occur on the current Australian tour, a team spokesman shook his head and said those days were over.
And despite targeted transformation still being in place, Prince agrees.
“I think we are picking every player on merit,” he told reporters in Perth this week.
South Africa’’s under-19 World Cup runners-up from earlier this year included just seven white players in a 14-man squad, with three of the top performers non-whites whom officials hope will eventually win national selection.
Majola, though, is reluctant to say when the quota system might end. (ANI)

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