Fast bowler Lungi Ngidi has received backing from a large group of former Proteas players, with the spotlight subsequently falling on Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) alleged failure to transform the sport.
Ngidi faced a backlash last week after voicing his support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, with former Proteas players including Pat Symcox and Boeta Dippenaar criticising his stance on social media.
Though CSA had issued a statement in support of Ngidi, however, a group of former Proteas players – including iconic fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, popular spin bowler Paul Adams, and top-order batsmen Herschelle Gibbs and Ashwell Prince – had since called on the federation to be more firm in stamping out racism.
“We see this as an opportunity for CSA to be unequivocal about its position and to make sure the problem is confronted,” said the group, which included 30 players of colour who had represented the national team.
They claimed the playing field was “still far from level” and that black cricketers had been subject to subtle and overt racist behaviour for many years.
“We are determined that future generations should not have to experience the pain we have had to endure, and that no South African cricketer should be discriminated against in the future,” the group said.
Meanwhile, the head of the sport’s players’ union questioned the federation’s sincerity in its support of BLM.
“In the last six months all eight new appointments within the executive management of cricket (CSA and its affiliates) have been white males,” SA Cricketers’ Association (Saca) president Omphile Ramela wrote in a letter to sports minister Nathi Mthethwa, which was published by Sport24.
Ramela insisted that organisations which did not adhere to government’s transformation policies were breaking the law and should “face the consequences”.
“Minister, it is time that your office invoked every law at its disposal, whether it be suspension of a non-transformed sporting organisation, issuing fines or choking funding,” he wrote.
“Whatever law is at your disposal, it is time to invoke those clauses.”
Last month, parliament had criticised CSA for failing in its gender transformation objectives, lashing out at the federation for a lack of women represented at the highest levels of the sport’s administration.
Earlier last month, Mthethwa had raised concerns after the release of the latest EPG report, which monitored the annual progress of transformation at all levels of SA sport.
“Black Africans and women are under-represented in every sphere of South African sport,” Mthethwa said.