McMillan in hot water (24 February 1999)

24 February 1999

McMillan in hot water

By Charles Randall in Johannesburg

THE South Africa all-rounder Brian McMillan faces heavy sanctions from the United Cricket Board in Johannesburg following an allegation that he made a racist remark while fielding during last weekend's provincial match between Western Province and Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The Board will today study affidavits from McMillan, the umpires, the batsmen at the crease, the captains, and bowler Claude Henderson, who was supposedly urged by McMillan to send down a "coolie creeper" to Ashraf Mall, the Natal batsman.

The use of the word coolie was described by a UCB official as "hurtful" to those of Asian stock, and the publicity from the match in Cape Town has arrived at a sensitive time for the Board, who last week finalised the legal details of their revolutionary shake-up of domestic professional cricket.

Next season all 11 provincial teams - the existing nine in the top division, plus Easterns at Benoni and North-West at Potchefstroom - will be compelled to contract at least three non-white players in squads to be limited to a maximum of 17 names.

This number excludes international players contracted to the UCB, but the new structure demands a major change in attitude among the big provinces such as Gauteng, who start a four-day match against England A at Wanderers tomorrow. The former Transvaal have 32 players on their books this season.

The best players failing to gain contracts will be encouraged to join a pool, allowing the weaker provinces to fill gaps in their own strength, with an eye on their non-white quota. Ali Bacher, managing director of the Board, described it as a "redistribution of playing strength".

He said: "It's a unique idea. In this pool there will be a lot of players of colour. For example, in Cape Town there are many coloured cricketers who just cannot get into the Western Province A team, but they're good enough to play first-class cricket."

There will be a wages ceiling and no transfer fees; the result should be higher standards, fewer full-time professionals and lower costs. England's bloated county set-up should take note.

The racist allegations coincide with governmental pressure on the UCB to fast-track non-white players. McMillan has made front-page news, attracting stinging criticism.

Mike Hickson, vice-president of Kwa-Zulu Natal, said: "A lot of whites don't realise how hurtful these things are. This incident is proof the man doesn't have any black friends."

Source :: Electronic Telegraph (