Cricket South Africa have introduced tougher transformation targets to make sure that they field a side comprising of atleast seven players of colour. The new targets might have already kicked in, though unofficial and will see an increase in number of Black Africans, leaving very little room for white players in playing 11.
The targets were reintroduced after the 2015 ICC World Cup dispute involving the decision to play Vernon Philander in favour of Kyle Abbott in the semifinal against New Zealand. The rules stated that the Proteas must field a team comprising of six players of colour, out of which two must be Black Africans. However, that combination has to be achieved throughout the season on an average, giving the team management and the captain more flexibility.
In a presentation made to the country’s sports minister, Nathi Mthethwa, the current percentage of black Africans in the team is 25% which will increase to 27% in the 2021-22 season. By 2022-23, the target is to have 33% black Africans in the playing 11. The targets are self-set by Cricket South Africa and are understood to have been accepted by the sports ministry.
“The only thing I can say is that I was in a transformation meeting and we were given a whole outline of what the rules and regulations were and that’s what we’ve got to abide by,” said South African head coach, Mark Boucher.
“I don’t know if that has been taken to the minister yet. It’s difficult for me to answer that. I think someone above me needs to answer that. If you look at the three black Africans, they are very good cricket players. It’s not up to me to answer this. I have got to select a team that I believe can do a job on the day and I do select that team along with Victor [Mpitsang] and Enoch [Nkwe],” added Mark Boucher.
Cricket South Africa has not responded to the requests for confirmation of the targets, but the recent team selections give us a hint. In all the three T20 matches, the Proteas team included five players of colour which is lower than the current and future target, of which three were black Africans.
New targets will make selection difficult for South Africa
In the first T20 match, Anrich Nortje had to sit out in favour of Lungi Ngidi who had just started his practice a few minutes before the toss. In the second T20, Reeza Hendricks was drafted into the squad and Pite van Biljon sat out, which meant Nortje could feature in the playing 11. Since Kagiso Rabada was injured for the third T20, Lutho Sipamla was drafted into the 11 as a straight swap.
The tighter transformation targets will make the selection process very difficult for Quinton De Kock and the team management. 46% of the team is to be comprised of white players, which makes it a selection headache. Janneman Malan and Kyle Verreynne are yet to feature against England and the availability of David Miller for the ODI series only makes the matter more complicated.
Cricket South Africa will also transform it’s coaching staff with the presentation stating that 60% of the national team consultants will comprise Black Africans and rest 40% to the people of colour.