Arendse appointed to tackle black player grievances
CSA has appointed their lead independent board director and chairman of the transformation committee, Norman Arendse, as convener of a task team to address the grievances voiced by black African cricketers last year, following a meeting with sports minister, Fikile Mbalula, in which it was made clear that the issue needed to be tackled as a matter of urgency.
Last November, a group of cricketers calling themselves Black Players in Unity wrote a letter to CSA detailing their concerns at being picked in national squads but not playing enough games. They were driven by the case of Khaya Zondo who travelled with the limited-overs squads to India in October 2015 but did not play a single game.
The minister's immediate stance on the issue was made clear in an interview with City Press. "I support the stance taken by the players," he wrote. "The issues of players being selected but not being picked for matches is old and has not only been raised by the players but the public. These players are not doing it for themselves but for generations to come."
Haroon Lorgat, CSA's chief executive, and Chris Nenzani, the president, confirmed receipt of the letter while still in India for the Test series and insisted that it would receive "priority attention at the highest level", with Mbalula responding that he was "encouraged" by a proposed meeting between the board and the players.
However, in the weeks that followed, there were no updates on whether a meeting had taken place or a solution reached. The only mention of the issue arose when it emerged in January that Aaron Phangiso, a black African player, had been sanctioned for drunken behaviour on a flight in October. The incident, however, was not made public or even shared with CSA's board, with Lorgat confirming to The Times that he and Nenzani had chosen to "contain the matter … in view of the black African player issue that had surfaced at that time".
In addition, CSA has been required to brief the minister on selection policies, guidelines and procedure which would include information on any transformation targets or quotas. The ministry said CSA's report was "well received, however there was general agreement that there are glaring gaps and inadequacies in the policy that are in conflict with the sports barometer and transformation charter".
The ministry did not go into further detail on where it believes CSA is failing to meet its obligations. However, it said the board had agreed to consultation aimed at policy review, adding that the board would "discuss the principle of merit selection in relation to the quality of opportunity." Broadly, that relates to whether players of colour are given sufficient chances to succeed at the highest level.
The ministry confirmed CSA have signed a memorandum of agreement, similar to the one signed by the South African Rugby Union last year, in order to guarantee their commitment to achieving transformation targets. Currently, CSA have targets at domestic level that require that every franchise must field six players of colour, of which three must be black African. CSA claim not to have official national quotas but unofficially, it is recommended that at least four players of colour take the field in every XI, of which one is black African.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent