Cape Town - The ANC has demanded greater transformation of the South African cricket team, while a storm swirls around selection decisions for last week’s Cricket World Cup semi-final, The Witness reports.
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Secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, speaking after the National Executive Committee meeting, “heartily congratulated” the Proteas, but added: “Cricket South Africa must, however, urgently address the issue of transformation. The only African in the squad, Aaron Phangiso, was also the only player who did not get game time during the whole tournament.”
It has been alleged since the Proteas went down in a tight match to New Zealand that there was political pressure to pick seamer Vernon Philander, returning from injury, over Kyle Abbott for the crucial match.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula denied any involvement. “Selection for any of our national teams has nothing to do with the minister. The minister has no space to decide who is chosen or not chosen,” he said.
At the weekend, Mbalula said allegations that he tries to influence selection are made by “apartheid apologists, a small group of dying dinosaurs”.
“We won’t be discouraged by their petulance,” he said.
During the tournament, Mbalula was a fiery supporter of the Proteas, tweeting during the semi-final: “Moer them AB!!! (sic)” and “And here comes Dale Steyn, faster than the Gautrain. Steyn Remover”.
He called on the public not to pay attention to “unfounded allegations” and to continue supporting the team.
Freedom Front Plus MP Anton Alberts said it was truly disheartening that an outstanding player like Philander had landed in the middle of distastefulness caused by the ANC government’s “questionable policy of sports quotas”.
“He’s a young man and an incident like this could have a big influence on his future as a sportsman. But the same could be said for Abbott. Quotas drive upcoming stars out of the country and destroy their dreams.”
Last week, Parliament’s sports portfolio committee lambasted the SA Rugby Union over perceived slow transformation.