Cape Town – South Africa seem set to field their first officially racially-influenced Test team since apartheid-era 1969/70 when they tackle New Zealand in the first of two contests at Kingsmead later this month.
It was reported by the New Zealand Herald (www.nzherald.co.nz) on Thursday that Cricket South Africa has “confirmed that by arrangement with the Sports Ministry” at least six of the starting XI to face the Black Caps “must be deemed black or coloured players”.
Writer David Leggat said that “new player selection guidelines will be in place” for the Proteas at Kingsmead (from August 19) and the follow-up clash at SuperSport Park.
This is despite denials from CSA earlier this week that a set figure for players of colour in national teams had already been discussed by its Board, dismissing a story in Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Rapport that six players of colour would be the minimum as “speculative”.
CSA communications manager Altaaf Kazi, approached by Sport24 for further comment on Thursday, said he could not confirm the statements in the New Zealand-based report.
The organisation announced last week that their Board had approved in principle the introduction for the first time of targets for all national sides – a departure from prior policy which curtailed the practice to the domestic arena.
When the press statement was released, CSA president Chris Nenzani was quoted as saying: “The precise targets will depend on work to be undertaken by relevant committees to determine what is realistic and sustainable.”
If the Herald report is to be believed, it seems things are moving at a faster rate than initially anticipated.
Proteas selection chief Linda Zondi earlier this week announced a 15-strong party for the mini-series, including seven players of colour; the squad is already affected by the absence through injury of regular captain AB de Villiers (Faf du Plessis will deputise as leader) and stalwart fast bowler Morne Morkel.
Should the starting XI be required to field a minimum of six players of colour in Durban, the team may look something like this: Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis (capt), JP Duminy, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Dane Piedt.
The remaining players, if that was the chosen XI, would be Stiaan van Zyl, Wayne Parnell, Chris Morris and Kyle Abbott, although the team brains trust would have to strike a tricky balance between pitch and weather conditions and the now supposedly stipulated needs of transformation in assembling the team.
Several of the first few Test teams chosen by South Africa in the immediate post-unity period (from 1992 onward as far as the five-day game was concerned) remained all-white, but the last national side to be specifically governed by racial guidelines was during the 1969/70 home series against Australia – when apartheid precluded the inclusion of any black players.
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