- The IRR has taken Cricket SA to world cricket governing body, the ICC, over what it calls “blatantly racist” policies and political interference.
- “It’s also incredibly stupid if you are going to implement a policy that disallows someone like Jacques Kallis from nurturing a new generation of players,” say Hermann Pretorius.
- Pretorius also said CSA had gone the way of Zimbabwe Cricket, who were last year banned for three months following political interference.
The South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has written to the world cricketing governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC) over what it terms Cricket South Africa’s (CSA’s) “blatantly racist” policies.
CSA announced this week that it had an agreement in place with government to give preference to black candidates when it came to appointing cricketing consultants.
The move came after the organisation had been under fire for its treatment of black players and black coaches in the past and the sports minister, Nathi Mthethwa questioning months back why senior positions in cricket were almost all held by white men.
At a time when Jacques Faul was still the acting CEO, Mthethwa admonished former CSA president Chris Nenzani in a parliamentary briefing, saying: “You look at the CEO (Faul)‚ you look at the director of cricket (Graeme Smith) and the Proteas coach (Mark Boucher), the deputy is an African (assistant Proteas coach Enoch Nkwe).”
CSA’s policy aimed at aggressive redress could see coaching consultants that were brought in prior to last summer’s England tour to SA, such as batting coach Jacques Kallis and spin coach Paul Harris, have no further involvement with the national team.
According to IRR deputy head of policy research, Hermann Pretorius, acting CSA president Beresford Williams had been notified of the IRR’s intention to write to the ICC’s board directors on the issue.
“That was definitely the final push,” Pretorius told Sport24.
“Like many South Africans, we’ve been following the developments in sport over the last decade and there have been issues of political interference, of malfeasance, mismanagement and, of course, this most recent case of just blatant racism.
“It is, frankly, absurd to re-racialise sport in a way that will set the clock back 40 years in terms of actually having sport achieve its potential as a unifying mechanism in South Africa.
“It isn’t only blatantly racist and in contravention of the ICC membership requirements and its policies, but I think it’s also incredibly stupid if you are going to implement a policy that is going to disallow someone like Jacques Kallis – probably one of the greatest players the game has ever produced – from nurturing a new generation of players.
“It places South Africa at risk of going back to a time when we were the pariah of the international sporting community, because we could only see colour and we couldn’t see togetherness, national pride and inclusion.”
Pretorius said the IRR had no qualms with CSA consulting with government when it came to its governance but expressed there had been longstanding political interference in the sport, hence they’ve written to the ICC.
In a statement released Wednesday, the IRR said: “Fairness has given way to ideological agendas, integrity to political opportunism and manipulation. Excellence has been compromised by placing sporting achievement second to political decision-making.”
Pretorius added that CSA had gone the way of Zimbabwe Cricket, who were banned for three months last year after the government of that country was said to have interfered in the sport.
“It’s proper for the minister to meet and consult with CSA, but the political interference is a broader problem we’ve seen over many years,” said Pretorius.
“There’s been increasing political decision-making in things like team selection and management selection, and government policy becoming the policy of cricket.
“It’s interesting because the Zimbabwean cricket authorities were suspended by the ICC last year exactly because of political interference in sporting governance.
“It’s a similar problem and it’s more than one incident. When CSA no longer has the freedom to choose the best team for South Africa, no matter the background, then that amounts to political interference.”
As for what should have been done and what can be done now to address the weighty transformation issue that faces cricket, Pretorius said CSA should follow the Springboks’ example.
“What the government should have done 26 years ago was to invest from a grassroots level.
“But, for some reason, in the year 2020, we only see a situation where only 6% of public schools have cricket infrastructure as part of their education. That is something the government could have invested in on the day of taking power.
“[But] it’s never too late to start doing the right thing. Government must take responsibility when it comes to educating youngsters, who look up to the Siya Kolisis and the Lungi Ngidis. Government has a duty there that it must shirk no longer.
“Government must also listen to the people of South Africa. Opinion polling done by the IRR in 2019 showed that 82% of black South Africans and 83% of all South Africans want sports teams to be chosen on merit, not on race.
“A leaf could also be taken from the South African Rugby Union, where in the build-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, they said we’re going to pick the best players.
“Siya Kolisi showed us how a traditionally ‘white sport’ can unify a divided country at this difficult time.”
CSA declined to comment.