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Black players the backbone of the Proteas

By BO Staff Writer

The Proteas are back in form, seamlessly beating an unexceptional Sri Lankan side in the second day of the second Test in Newlands, Cape Town, taking a 2-0 lead in the 3 match Test series.

One of the stars of the South African side was Kagiso Rabada, a towering 21-year-old fast bowler with a patient and steady hand. He took 4/37 wickets in the match. Fellow fast bowler, Vernon Philander also helped bury Sri Lanka by picking up an important 4/27 wickets, before he reached his milestone – his 150th test wicket.

Black players in the Test squad were talented batsman Hashim Amla, renowned batsman & spinner JP Duminy, fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, spinner Keshav Maharaj, record breaking batsman Temba Bavuma and another fast bowler Vernon Philander. They played with a slick precision and determined work ethic.

As we celebrate the #BlackExcellence evidently displayed by these players, the glaring problem of transformation and unfair team selections in the squad still prevail. It seems, black players have to beg to be selected – but once selected they are subjected to unfair amounts of scrutiny.

In a scathing letter to Cricket South Africa (CSA) last year, a group of black cricket players who called themselves Black Cricketers in Unity said black players “have been pushed to the margins to become ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’. There is a mistrust of black African players’ ability to perform and assume responsibility and be charged with leadership roles.”

The letter further stated, “outspoken characters in our national team are sidelined. Black voices are being suppressed … Our human being is undervalued, underappreciated and completely disregarded.”

In an off the record conversation with a Titans fast bowler late last year, the player revealed to Black Opinion that the sport was still heavily racialized and favoured white players. He also mentioned that he was routinely called a “racist” for simply pointing out inequality.

Last year, CSA introduced a 6 black-player per match quota system which has gotten white people in South Africa and abroad crying foul. Typical of white tears, the detractors say the quota will push the best, read white, players overseas, stripping the national squad of crucial players. This reaction comes after an influx of white players have signed contracts in England under the ‘Kolpak rule’. Following the footsteps of players like Steven Pietersen, players like Stiaan Harmer, Hardus Viljoen, Rilee Rossouw, Simon Harmer, and more recently, Kyle Abbott, have followed suite.

The Kolpak rule allows certain players in countries which have signed a treaty with the European Union to sign contracts with teams in England, which bar them from playing for their national teams for the duration of their contracts abroad. In South Africa, all the players which have gone to play for the imperialist cricket team have been white with exception of Lonwabo Tsotsobe who went for a short period but returned saying his time at Essex was the “worst two months” of his life.

Today, we can celebrate #BlackExcellence in cricket because of legendary black players like the stellar fast bowler, Makhaya Ntini, who was the first black player in the Proteas team and the third highest wicket taker of all time. With the beautiful work the chosen black players are doing in the national squad, it would be encouraging if they would lift their voices and speak more loudly of the racial hardships they have had to face in rising to the top in the Proteas.

We wish the black players in the white Proteas team all the best for the coming Test and One Day International (ODI) matches. Continue being black and being excellent.

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