Cricket South Africa (CSA) have elected to place their current transformation targets on hold. A decision that was made after public backlash due to their very controversial statements, causing many South African cricket supporters to fear that politics had ruined the game they love.
Former Proteas opening-batsman, Boeta Dippenaar, shared his opinion in an exclusive interview with The Afrikan Post. When asked about the situation CSA find themselves in, Dippenaar explained, “Cricket South Africa has been in a heavy dispute these last few years. The new administration, which was appointed six months ago, wanted to win favour with the government by implementing regulations to ensure that all coaching and support staff would be strictly non-white. This decision has been reversed, but for how long?” asked Dippenaar. The South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has since threatened to take action against Cricket South Africa’s board and report them to the International Cricket Council if they choose to base employment purely on race.
South African cricket great, Jacques Kallis, who acted as batting consultant to the Proteas as recently as the 2019/20 season, has since gone on to assume a similar role within the English cricket camp. The same English team that embarrassed the Proteas on home soil at the end of last year. This led to very public criticism of CSA and their decision to employ coaches and consultants on the basis of race, instead of ability and performance, which in turn, led to the loss of proven staff, like Kallis.
ESPN reported that, apart from an all-black coaching setup, CSA’s target was to enforce the fielding of seven players of colour, including three black Africans, by 2022/23, but this is not the official statement from CSA. “Nothing is written,” Dippenaar said, “one has to distinguish between what is written and what is not. That’s where the challenge comes in.”
“England appointing Jacques Kallis as an assistant coach has led to even further public outcry,” said the former Free State franchise captain. Kallis is seen as a South African sweetheart and legend of the game, so the fact that local politics have pushed him into the camp of one of South Africa’s greatest rivals is a very hard pill to swallow.
“Sport is for us, as South Africans, a pressure-release valve. Pressure from life and work can add up and be very high, but if your team plays well and wins over the weekend, it helps you relax and associate with something that is good. What politics within sport has done, is bring the stressors we seek to escape back into the game,” said Dippenaar.
All South Africans want is for their team to do well, regardless of who plays, but the politics within our sports codes is making it more and more difficult for teams to perform as the government places seemingly endless pressure on teams to transform, instead of perform. Dippenaar believes the solution lies with government effort, instead of sports code pressure. “In my opinion, national sports teams reflect a certain class,” he began, “so if we want our national sports teams to better reflect our country’s demographics, our government needs to do the work and establish better schools and put less pressure on sporting associations.” This is what Dippenaar believes will lead to our national teams, and not only cricket, becoming more representative of the country’s demographics.