December 10, 2009

South African cricket

After Ntini, who?

Siddhartha Talya

No sportsman in South Africa unites the nation as much as Makhaya Ntini does, writes Stephen Brenkley in the Independent, and there is much to celebrate when he plays his 100th Test on December 16. However, with the football team struggling and rugby union lacking the emotive pull of cricket, who will emerge as the next Ntini and what are South African authorities - both government as well as those associated with cricket - doing to find one?

There are two other major team sports in South Africa: football and rugby union. The former is the sport of the black man and the country is suffering from World Cup fever because of the event which will take place here next year. But the team is faultering and it does not bridge the divide as cricket does. Similarly rugby union, although it has a greater black representation than cricket, does not possess the emotive pull of cricket in this society for all its popularity.

When Ntini departs there will be a gap. The government and Cricket South Africa will insist that it is filled sooner rather than later. A national cricket team consisting of white and coloured players is not seen to be representative of the rainbow nation.

Paul Weaver, like Brenkley, makes a trip to Ntini's Eastern Cape Village of Mdingi, and tries to find out the steps being taken to find the successor to South Africa's first black Test cricketer. Read his article in the Guardian.

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Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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