October 23, 2013

Quotas: less black and white than ever

Affirmative action is among the most bitterly divisive issues of the age. Particularly in sport, which depends on fairness, which in turn begins with equality of opportunity
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"The heroes of our nation, dedicated to building the foundation of cricket for generations to come." Thus does the Cricket South Africa website hail its most important employees. Scroll down and you'll find an even more important assertion: "We can't undo the past, but we can shape the future."

Quotas cannot undo the past: their function is to shape the future by undoing the legacy of the past. Hence the recent decision to oblige South Africa's six franchises to field at least one black African in every match (for amateur teams the requirement doubles). On the face of it, this doesn't sound terribly onerous. It's certainly a far cry from the system Kevin Pietersen insists, disingenuously, drove him to England. One fact justifies this latest condition: 22 years after readmission, Makhaya Ntini remains the sole black African to have won 30 Test caps.

Affirmative action - or, as we Brits prefer, positive discrimination - is one of the most bitterly contested issues of the age. To some it oozes pros; to others, copious cons. To some it redresses prejudice, ancient and present; to others it either ignores other socio-economic factors or simply incites another form of prejudice, usually against those unfortunate enough to be paying for the sins of their fathers. In sport, purportedly the ultimate meritocracy, affirmative action is especially divisive. It will plainly take decades, even centuries, to atone for the sins of apartheid. South African sport has sought to balance those lopsided books via selection quotas, known officially as the "target transformation" policy, a step taken to equally justified and perhaps even more turbulent effect in Zimbabwe.

The complexity of all this is captured by Fisher v University of Texas, a legal case in the USA that is threatening to reverse the 2003 landmark decision in Grutter v Bollinger. Mindful of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, the US Supreme Court was tasked with deciding whether race can be a factor in deciding university admissions. In June, the case was thrown back to a lower court, a move welcomed by proponents of affirmative action: the principle, after all, had not been reversed. Recently, however, the "race-neutral" approach has even been advocated by the Project 21 leadership network, a group of African-American conservatives.

By contrast, Kevin Brown, a law professor at Indiana University and author of a forthcoming book on affirmative action, believes it would be a "massive mistake" to substitute consideration of an applicant's socio-economic background for his or her race. "We seem to be forgetting why affirmative action was created in the first place. Yes, of course it's true that individuals from poor backgrounds, regardless of skin colour, face obstacles in obtaining the kind of academic success valued by higher education institutions. But blacks and Latinos are disadvantaged in American society, even when adjusting for socio-economic factors."

Education, of course, is much more important than sport. Besides, why should sport be expected to discriminate, however positively, when other branches of the cultural tree, prejudiced as so many are against the physically unattractive, are not? What right, furthermore, do we have to tell Woody Allen to hire more black actors? He would argue, not unreasonably, that he makes movies about the world he knows, a world of white masters and black servants / prostitutes / entertainers. Sport differs because its legitimacy depends on fairness, and fairness begins with equality of opportunity. Without such foundations, its social value vanishes.

Cricket first tiptoed down this rocky road four decades ago, when the International Wanderers, a private party comprising several eminent English and Australian players, took on multi-racial XIs in South Africa. Such ventures ended in 1976, after hundreds of schoolchildren were killed in Soweto while protesting the government's education policies.

How illuminating, then, to dip into Luke Alfred's The Art of Losing, published last year, and learn that just three members of the South African team at the 1992 World Cup had voted in the whites-only referendum that approved the continuation of President FW De Klerk's reforms (had the decision gone the other way, warrants Alfred, they would have had to return home mid-tournament). Ahead lay those trials by quota.

In 1998, encouraged by the ANC, the United Cricket Board of South Africa laid down the law: the starting XI for each international match should include at least four players of "colour". Quotas were also introduced at provincial level. Adherence was never strict.

The first major row erupted in 2002 when the national selectors chose Jacques Rudolph ahead of Justin Ontong against Australia, only to be overruled by Percy Sonn, the board president. As a consequence, Ontong, who counted Rudolph as a friend, endured one of the most fiery and unenviable of baptisms. Double-edged swords don't come much more jagged than this. Knowing you've been picked not on your merits but because what was once an unfortunate accident of birth was now an advantage must play merry hell with one's self-esteem.

A relentlessly controversial figure whose administrative career would bring him to the heights of the ICC presidency and the depths of fraud allegations and alcohol-fuelled public disgrace, Sonn was roundly criticised by the cricketing fraternity; yet even those who believed he should have been focusing his efforts on improving coaching facilities for black schoolchildren understood his motives. "No doubt Sonn," noted the Guardian, "has seen too many examples of lip-service being paid to a quota system while, behind the scenes, not much is being done to attack the roots of an historic injustice."

Reflecting the elitism of a sport showing few signs of gaining traction in a black community conspicuously more enamoured of football, South Africa's 2007 Rugby World Cup-winning XV numbered only a couple of non-white faces. In cricket, another sport dominated by the elite white schools, politicians and administrators believed reformation should be a top-down process, billed as "targeted transformation". "As long as we have an abnormal society," Norman Arendse, the CSA president at the time, emphasised in 2007, "quotas and targets are not only desirable but also a constitutional imperative."

Why should sport be expected to discriminate, however positively, when other branches of the cultural tree are not?

This prompted some problematic arguments. When Graeme Smith wanted to omit Ntini from a critical World Cup match, he was obliged to justify himself in a lengthy one-on-one with the CSA chief executive, Gerald Majola. Many argued that dressing-room morale was being undermined. By 2010, according to Tony Irish, the South Africa Cricket Association CEO, matters had become intolerable: "The players feel that as soon as a racial number is set for selection of the team (whether or not one calls this a quota or a target) it leads to a divisive dynamic within the team, and it is also degrading to the players of colour who should be there on merit, yet are labelled a quota/target player."

Cue a letter sent to Arendse and his fellow board members in 2007 by a group of senior players led by Ashwell Prince, soon to become the national team's first coloured captain. In it, they demanded an end to "artificial" selection at the highest level. Later that year, Makhenkesi Stofile, the sports minister, scoffed at the quotas as "window dressing", signifying a shift towards the notion that victory on the field would be a more effective form of inspiration.

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In this sphere, Zimbabwe is well ahead of its big brother. It was the quota system that spurred 15 white players to mount a rebellion in 2004, led by Heath Streak. Today Streak is adamant that most of the nation's professionals, regardless of skin colour, were opposed to quotas and that his black colleagues, whose job options were far narrower, declined to revolt only because they feared the repercussions. The recent Test victory over Pakistan by a team far more reflective of the nation's demographics suggests that the angst has been worthwhile.

"Some sort of compensation or attempt at rectification is due to those non-white sportspeople who were directly or indirectly disadvantaged by apartheid." So acknowledged Dr Carl Thomen of the University of Johannesburg, in his 2008 book Is it Cricket? An Ethical Evaluation of Race Quotas in Sport. These "compensatory efforts", he nonetheless concluded, "must not come via the same principles which got us into the mess of apartheid in the first place". In writing his book, he sought "to show that the negative consequences of such policies far outweigh any good they may realistically claim to do".

Upon reading those sentiments a few weeks ago, I emailed the author. Surely, given the opportunities afforded the likes of Ntini and Hashim Amla, the quota system had been justified? He was not for turning. "I'm not sure that that policy was responsible [his italics] for their selection. Perhaps they were thrown in a bit earlier than otherwise, but I'm not sure you can credit the quota policies of the time with their success. The problem with quotas is that they are ethically indefensible, and they actively do damage. 'Necessity' doesn't come into it; they are evil, plain and simple."

Evil, really? How, then, do we describe apartheid? The counter-argument was summed up by my guest last weekend, John Young, a sportswriter, author and retired schoolteacher from the Western Cape and Thami Tsolekile's erstwhile agent. "Quotas were necessary precisely so that merit could be acknowledged," he reasons. "Good black players would never have been picked without them."

There's one mathematical equation we all know: wrong + wrong never = right. But sometimes being wrong for the right reasons can be preferable to being right for the wrong ones.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Marktc on October 23, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    It has to start at primary school level. Development needs to be catered for from the young up. This also means getting children interested in the sport. IT is also more about class in a lot of cases. I know of many kids who's family cannot afford the kit for them to play, as the schools do not furnish equipment. So we are losing a lot of talent, of all races. As for quotas, I disagree with them. Team dynamics should not be upset, and it also demeans players who make it on pure merit.

  • SuperSharky on October 25, 2013, 6:58 GMT

    When will we be allowed to say……? "These are the best players South Africa can produce, no matter who they are. We are proud of them, no matter what their colour is, because they are all South African 5% of the country is interested in cricket no matter what their skin-colour is. They represent South Africa because they are all South African. Even if they obtain their South African citizenship only a few years back."

  • Robster1 on October 25, 2013, 2:00 GMT

    Every opportunity needs to be given to all but positive discrimination is just sadly misguided racism and in the end is little more than tokenism. Play your best XI.

  • ThatsJustCricket on October 24, 2013, 21:34 GMT

    @Stel En, absolutely right and look how well that works. Only creates more problems in India. This quota/target whatever you call it never solves a problem, it only makes things worse.

  • Roupharusa on October 24, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    your argument about race demographics is fundamentally incorrect, regarding the USA, their basketball and NFL teams certainly don't reflect the demographics of the USA, Blacks only comprise 13% of the population, yet you extend the point that cricket should reflect the demographics of South Africa. Why should it? It certainly does not reflect sports in the USA or the French Football Team. The best players should play, regardless of skin color. What a farce, politics will destroy cricket in South Africa again.

  • on October 24, 2013, 17:47 GMT

    This is a solution for a wider economic problem, the legacy of apartheid still impacts equal opportunity. Should social descrimination be addressed across all of society this problem would be naturally dealt with. By acting in isolation cricket across the country will be negatively impacted, as will the players who get opportunities they have not earned. Sport highlights the less able with cruel indifference. Clearly South Africa wants to fix this quicker than society appears to support, and it should be applauded, however cricket will be effected and might discourage talented players from pursuing the sport, or into sporting migrants playing elsewhere . This is a big call, good luck

  • Nutcutlet on October 24, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    Getting black schoolchildren (and it must surely start in primary school) interested in & playing cricket is not exclusively a matter of skin-colour; it is surely to do with the economic level of the vast majority of black people in SA. Cricket is a complex game and to move off first base, it requires some basic equipment & a flat surface - none of which comes cheap. This is one overwhelming factor that puts cricket at an immediate disadvantage with football the world over. Even Ntini's story backs this up. "Mainstream cricket in SA was under pressure to prove itself... beyond its hitherto largely white niche when Ntini emerged from the backwaters of the Eastern Cape in 1993. The script ... Hollywood. Ntini was discovered by the then United Cricket Board's (UCB) development programme. His next stop was Dale College, a prestigious school where cricket's roots run deep." (Telford Vice, on this site.) So, give black children the best educational opportunities & quotas become irrelevant!

  • legend2402 on October 24, 2013, 5:17 GMT

    'jonathanjosephs' Your current thinking is exactly why it will never wotk! Why punish the current generation for the people who made the mistakes in the past, we as South Africans need to get over ourselves and look forward not backwards, we as a country keep blaming the apartheid era, but that is 20 years ago? really, we need to look at why the black kids are not coming through the system? and sort it out! its amazing yesterday in our countries budget speech yesterday the 1 minister explained how the 1 deparment spent 57 000 rand a month on take aways? just stating a point how money gets wasted in this country but it is so funny how many people are poor, that money could be used for a young black cricketer!

  • on October 23, 2013, 23:13 GMT

    CSA has invested next to nothing in proper grass roots development . We should have 3 or 4 academies totally dedicated to developing young black cricketing talent. Introduce performance reviews for people looking after grass roots cricket and within 5 years we would have found 4-5 makaya ntinis playing on merit.

  • Metro-ant on October 23, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    I don't believe in having race quotas at international level however I fully support it at a lower level. Lower level in the sense first class cricket domestically. I see it as building for the future the same way you groom young players (don't want to sound patronising) but doing the same with those marginalised in society. When you have a major demographic not being reflective in your cricket team, you know long term you are going to have problems. This is a deeply divided issue especially those who are on the receiving end of these changes. In reality, the real victims are not those who were not picked because of the colour of their skin, it was those that couldn't afford a bat and ball at grassroots level.

  • Marktc on October 23, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    It has to start at primary school level. Development needs to be catered for from the young up. This also means getting children interested in the sport. IT is also more about class in a lot of cases. I know of many kids who's family cannot afford the kit for them to play, as the schools do not furnish equipment. So we are losing a lot of talent, of all races. As for quotas, I disagree with them. Team dynamics should not be upset, and it also demeans players who make it on pure merit.

  • SuperSharky on October 25, 2013, 6:58 GMT

    When will we be allowed to say……? "These are the best players South Africa can produce, no matter who they are. We are proud of them, no matter what their colour is, because they are all South African 5% of the country is interested in cricket no matter what their skin-colour is. They represent South Africa because they are all South African. Even if they obtain their South African citizenship only a few years back."

  • Robster1 on October 25, 2013, 2:00 GMT

    Every opportunity needs to be given to all but positive discrimination is just sadly misguided racism and in the end is little more than tokenism. Play your best XI.

  • ThatsJustCricket on October 24, 2013, 21:34 GMT

    @Stel En, absolutely right and look how well that works. Only creates more problems in India. This quota/target whatever you call it never solves a problem, it only makes things worse.

  • Roupharusa on October 24, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    your argument about race demographics is fundamentally incorrect, regarding the USA, their basketball and NFL teams certainly don't reflect the demographics of the USA, Blacks only comprise 13% of the population, yet you extend the point that cricket should reflect the demographics of South Africa. Why should it? It certainly does not reflect sports in the USA or the French Football Team. The best players should play, regardless of skin color. What a farce, politics will destroy cricket in South Africa again.

  • on October 24, 2013, 17:47 GMT

    This is a solution for a wider economic problem, the legacy of apartheid still impacts equal opportunity. Should social descrimination be addressed across all of society this problem would be naturally dealt with. By acting in isolation cricket across the country will be negatively impacted, as will the players who get opportunities they have not earned. Sport highlights the less able with cruel indifference. Clearly South Africa wants to fix this quicker than society appears to support, and it should be applauded, however cricket will be effected and might discourage talented players from pursuing the sport, or into sporting migrants playing elsewhere . This is a big call, good luck

  • Nutcutlet on October 24, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    Getting black schoolchildren (and it must surely start in primary school) interested in & playing cricket is not exclusively a matter of skin-colour; it is surely to do with the economic level of the vast majority of black people in SA. Cricket is a complex game and to move off first base, it requires some basic equipment & a flat surface - none of which comes cheap. This is one overwhelming factor that puts cricket at an immediate disadvantage with football the world over. Even Ntini's story backs this up. "Mainstream cricket in SA was under pressure to prove itself... beyond its hitherto largely white niche when Ntini emerged from the backwaters of the Eastern Cape in 1993. The script ... Hollywood. Ntini was discovered by the then United Cricket Board's (UCB) development programme. His next stop was Dale College, a prestigious school where cricket's roots run deep." (Telford Vice, on this site.) So, give black children the best educational opportunities & quotas become irrelevant!

  • legend2402 on October 24, 2013, 5:17 GMT

    'jonathanjosephs' Your current thinking is exactly why it will never wotk! Why punish the current generation for the people who made the mistakes in the past, we as South Africans need to get over ourselves and look forward not backwards, we as a country keep blaming the apartheid era, but that is 20 years ago? really, we need to look at why the black kids are not coming through the system? and sort it out! its amazing yesterday in our countries budget speech yesterday the 1 minister explained how the 1 deparment spent 57 000 rand a month on take aways? just stating a point how money gets wasted in this country but it is so funny how many people are poor, that money could be used for a young black cricketer!

  • on October 23, 2013, 23:13 GMT

    CSA has invested next to nothing in proper grass roots development . We should have 3 or 4 academies totally dedicated to developing young black cricketing talent. Introduce performance reviews for people looking after grass roots cricket and within 5 years we would have found 4-5 makaya ntinis playing on merit.

  • Metro-ant on October 23, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    I don't believe in having race quotas at international level however I fully support it at a lower level. Lower level in the sense first class cricket domestically. I see it as building for the future the same way you groom young players (don't want to sound patronising) but doing the same with those marginalised in society. When you have a major demographic not being reflective in your cricket team, you know long term you are going to have problems. This is a deeply divided issue especially those who are on the receiving end of these changes. In reality, the real victims are not those who were not picked because of the colour of their skin, it was those that couldn't afford a bat and ball at grassroots level.

  • on October 23, 2013, 18:56 GMT

    India has an affirmative action program for people when they go to universities. and jobs. Definetely not for cricket. Sri Lanka has no affirmative action program for anyone

  • Beertjie on October 23, 2013, 18:27 GMT

    Interesting and thought-provoking last sentence. More than two decades after re-admission one would have hoped for an end to such an invidious requirement, but if we are still far from a post-racial society can we really be surprised by the need to tamper with selection processes at whatever level to address matters of greater inclusivity?

  • Cpt.Meanster on October 23, 2013, 17:37 GMT

    I thought the quota system ended that conversation a few weeks back. I have said it before and I will say it again, as long as SA keep picking cricketers based on their skills and abilities, they will be a good side, The moment they start picking players based on political agenda, they will drop down to the lower end of the ICC rankings in the next decade. If SA has to play a XI filled with black players, then so be it provided, they are all EXCEPTIONALLY good. Otherwise, it would be a waste of time and all the hard word done over the apartheid years to rejuvenate South African sport will go down the drain.

  • johnathonjosephs on October 23, 2013, 14:32 GMT

    The reason affirmative action is there, is to undo the unfairness of the past. Hundreds of years of oppression and injustice can not go unpunished. To the people who are saying this is unfair.... Why weren't you voicing this same "unfairness" to the apartheid before 1991?

  • on October 23, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    Whatever spin you try to put on it, positive discrimination is still discrimination. It has no place in sport.

  • JayPeg on October 23, 2013, 14:05 GMT

    40 years ago you had to look very hard to find any Afrikaans speaking cricket players as the sport in SA was dominated by English speaking. The reason was simple - the sport was not a feature at Afrikaans speaking schools. That changed and in the 90's more and more Afrikaans speaking players came to the fore as the team now shows. There was no AA needed or coercion to get these players into the team. It happened naturally. Black players will arise in just the same manner in time and if their motivation is strong. What is not needed is a system which seeks to stigmatize players of a certain race as quota players just so that some's sensibility of what is politically correct is appeased. What Steen actually means by his last statement is "There's one mathematical equation we all know: wrong + wrong never = right. But sometimes losing for the right reasons can be preferable to winning for the wrong reasons."

  • Eye0f_Tornado on October 23, 2013, 13:58 GMT

    We can reserve more seats for the young talented blacks in the Cricket academies ( that too based on their potentials ); devise better policies for their participation in not only sports but community service and decision making - to have more and more "black" players proving their potential and "earning" their place in the playing XI.

  • Eye0f_Tornado on October 23, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    Sports is different from schooling. It demands performance - any player who is selected ahead in a team must be high on confidence, self-esteem and self-efficacy, apart from the necessary skills and talent. Education/schooling/coaching is the means of furnishing such talents into better skills - at both psychological and physical levels. It is a preparatory phase. It is the opportunity to actualize your potential. And at that level, we must ensure that we integrate out heterogeneous society. Merely reserving "guest" berths in the teams without merit actually do more harm than good. The quota must be there but it must be there to give equal opportunity for the talents to develop for the neglected and oppressed sections of the society.

  • mk49_van on October 23, 2013, 13:54 GMT

    1 out of 11 causing a ruckus? I say make it two or three, and it will force these teams to look for talent. And they will find it.

  • BellCurve on October 23, 2013, 13:51 GMT

    Terms like "black" and "coloured" really concern me. How do you distinguish between the two? If I understand correctly then Amla and Philander are considered to be players of "colour"; but they are not considered to be "black". Tsolekile on the other hand is considered to be "black". Why? Do they look at his surname? Or did someone somehow measure the colour of his skin? It feels like we are moving in the wrong direction. Apartheid certainly was evil; but surely this is also a very bad idea.

  • on October 23, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    very good article by its nice language. but there is no point in post-mortem analysis of a decision made a sovereign country. if the people of the land is not given adequate representation in national team what is the use of a game which is just played by less than 5 % of SA population.

  • on October 23, 2013, 13:01 GMT

    It is a given that anything that is built on a foundation of injustice must ultimately fail; the evils of apartheid may not be reversed in a very long time but to be critical of restitution efforts is lamentable; maybe we should look at the electoral process of one person one vote; big money nullifies the equity of this system but in the prevailing circumstances it is all we have; the redress of a vicious system in little ways of questionable justification is better than none.

  • lukiboy on October 23, 2013, 12:35 GMT

    Amla is not a product of quotas, he was one of the top run-scorers the years around his initial and subsequent selections, he had played age group SA cricket, and at school he as captain of one the the major cricketing schools in KZN. His brother had played for and continued to play for the dolphins prior to Amla's domestic début, he was always gonna play for SA

  • SuperSharky on October 23, 2013, 12:18 GMT

    To me the real problem in South Africa is that the majority of black people aren't interested in cricket. They prefer soccer also known as football. Look at school level, the majority of black kids don't like cricket and prefer to play soccer instead. Makaya Ntini was a fairy-tale and the Proteas was very lucky that he step up the right time when the politics pressured cricket on a bombastic scale. The forever ongoing transformation is useless, dividing the nation and actually stand against equal rights for all races.

  • Hammond on October 23, 2013, 12:13 GMT

    If the best playing XI happens to be all white then grow cricket in the black communities. There are plenty of professional Aboriginal sportsman/women in Australia, we don't need a quota system to encourage that.

  • stormy16 on October 23, 2013, 11:52 GMT

    I don't think playing for your country on anything other than merit is acceptable for the fans, team and country. At the end of the day you can have all the quotas etc. at lower levels, but when it comes to the country the best 11 must play regardless of color, race and religion. SA are rather fortunate with the abundance of talent around (sufficient to supply Eng and NZ) enabling the application of quotas but this would be a major problem if the team wasn't wining. I wonder what would happen if SA were to make it to the next WC final (which I expect them to) - are they going to play the best 11? Also I don't follow much soccer but I wonder how many white blokes play soccer for SA?

  • klempie on October 23, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    "encouraged by the ANC" Now *that's* a euphemism if ever I saw one.

  • MariusRoodt on October 23, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    'How illuminating, then, to dip into Luke Alfred's The Art of Losing, published last year, and learn that just three members of the South African team at the 1992 World Cup had voted in the whites-only referendum that approved the continuation of President FW De Klerk's reforms (had the decision gone the other way, warrants Alfred, they would have had to return home mid-tournament). Ahead lay those trials by quota. '

    The only reason only 3 players voted in the election was because only 3 had thought it fit to bring their SA identity documents to Australia. These identity documents were necessary in order to vote. It's unlikely anything to do with racism in the side.

  • on October 23, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    You should never confuse equality of opportunity with equality of outcome. They key to getting players from all ethnic backgrounds into the highest levels of sport lies in getting them the training, education and opportunities to shine and display their talent at the lower rungs and then let ability take them upwards to national team selection.

  • on October 23, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    "Quotas were necessary precisely so that merit could be acknowledged. Good Black players would never have been picked without them." This statement makes me want to make an example in regard to the work places. Its like if you are black and work for a white dominated company, there are those cases where a young white person would join the company, with less qualifications than the black person. The black person teaches the white person the work but when its time for promotions the white person in considered. This is why government introduce things like affirmative action. If people were being fair and everyone get recognised on merit from the onset, the quota system would not even be required. Our society is messed up. That's the plain truth and government must step up and intervene.

  • Unomaas on October 23, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    How much better could our SA team be if we could harness the potential of the 80% black majority in our country? How much more revenue could CSA generate if we harnessed the potential of the 80% majority? Logically and ethically we can't justify affirmative action but in terms of long term survival and sporting glory, we have to make painful decisions now to safeguard the future of the game in our country.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on October 23, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    Cricket has more serious divides on the field to consider. For instance, ever noticed that all the fielding positions within the circle, which doesn't need too much running is all given to batsmen and the bowlers are made to run in the outfield? Where's the logic behind that, especially after the bowlers bowl a long hard over? The reasoning that the bowlers can run and the batsmen can't, doesn't wash simply because the batsmen are expected to run fast between wickets with pads on! When fielding it's the bowlers who get tired and not the batsmen, so why shouldn't the batsmen be doing the running in the outfield? Or is it being suggested that the bowlers can't field within the circle and the batsmen can? Ludicrous!

  • carban on October 23, 2013, 8:25 GMT

    what people often seem to forget is that "prejudice" doesn't necessarily imply treating someone badly (although that is the way most people understand the term). if i were to treat all black people (e.g.) with far greater courtesy than my fellow whites, this would still be a form of prejudice, precisely because i would making a pre-judgement based solely on the colour of someone's skin, and failing completely to see *the person*. it may not be as obviously unpleasant, but it is still patronising at best, and i'm pretty sure it would leave a bad taste in the mouth of the recipient. this is ALWAYS the problem with positive discrimination. saying that the opportunities are now there for everyone is a good thing; forcing sides to include a minimum number of "players of colour" may be well-intentioned, or it may indeed just be window-dressing, but it sends entirely the wrong message to ALL players imo

  • GLS123 on October 23, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    I disagree that this is a complex issue. Most fans see it as a simple one - players need to come through on merit. So we want black players to come through, we need to invest the resources at the grass root levels.

    Of course it would be great for the South African team to be representative of the diversity of the country. But we come back to this grass roots thing. This should be obvious, international cricket requires an extraordinary combination of hard work and talent, as well as access to facilities and coaching. Quotas are a shortcut, the lazy man's way out.

    And the idea that Hashim Amla is a product of the quota system is frankly insulting to a highly dignified, skilled and popular player.

  • ZCFOutkast on October 23, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    We must do everything in our power to employ positive discrimination to its fullest in order to reverse this kind of nonsense that has bedevilled our people for centuries!

    Looking at a lot of those farmers who represented Zimbabwe over the years, there were several players of the Mbangwa, Madondo, Matambanadzo generation who were far superior to those batsmen but for long were ignored.

    Look at how long it took for Philander to be recognised? Season after season of top FC performances but no Test cap to show for it! In the past we've seen one season wonders Abbott, de Kock&Marchant all get chances but why wasn't the same courtesy extended to Mbhalati&Gqamane? That's precisely why Thami's agent said "Quotas were necessary precisely so that merit could be acknowledged. Good Black players would never have been picked without them." Like all of us, he knows first hand where Thami is concerned.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on October 23, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    Reservations, quotas, "affirmative action" - are all wrong. Any system which subverts MERIT is wrong. When you subvert MERIT, you kill the quest for excellence and that's what people seek in sport, education, career, etc. There WILL always be a particular class of people who will excel. People who have the right value systems towards discipline, practice and the 'need to excel'. More often than not, these values are ingrained at home and honed at school. These value systems can be inculcated into a population irrespective of socio-economic-political disadvantages. It takes 10 years ( the schooling years) to effect a turnaround in society. After that term, if no progress is made, any quota/reservation is a hand-out and the recipient is only feels more backward and inadequate and incapable of competing. That's the TRUTH which many a country need to learn, including South Africa and especially India!

  • on October 23, 2013, 7:24 GMT

    Even though it's a controversial decision, it has to happen if Cricket in SA, wishes to become a national sport followed/played by everyone, not just a small minority of people. If you are a talented player like Kallis, Dale etc, than no one can stop you from playing for your country. But, people need to understand majority of the population in SA are black, who needs be given a greater chance if SA hopes to attract greater poll of talent for the future.

  • on October 23, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    What about solving the problem that is at hand - racism - instead of destroying cricket in South Africa! South Africa does have a "history" after all and only a very naive person would believe that there is no racism whatsoever in white South Africa. Having said that cricket - and sport - doesn't lie. The ball doesn't swing too much or too little because it is a black person bowling or batting. The superior skill of bowler or batsmen is decisive in the end not the colour of one''s skin. Remember the West Indies in 80s and early 90s? Were they good because anybody gave them special favours or because they were so much better than everybody else? Zimbabwe: fair point. But, how much better would they have been with Ballance (England) and de Grandhomme (New Zealand) in their side? How much better would they have been if Andy Flower was Paul Strang were still in the country to pass on their knowledge to budding black cricketers. Solving racism with more racism seems a tad illogical to me.

  • Romanticstud on October 23, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    Quotas ... What is that? ... Why even talk about it? The best available 11 should always take to the field ... be they caucasian, mixed race, african, asian or any other tone of skin colour ... that should not matter ... The only thing that should matter is the ability. South Africa have a bunch of fans that expect the side to win. If they're the best they MUST WIN. It is not a question of second. That is why South African fans are so disappointed every time South Africa has been knocked out of a major sporting competition ... You cannot plat the BEST side if you have to mix the colours and they are not the BEST ... It is like making a chocolate cake ... If you have inferior ingredients, it won't taste as good.

    So choose the BEST team.

  • Starboomber on October 23, 2013, 5:31 GMT

    The thing is there is no development, black schools don't play cricket even amongst themselves. Soccer is the main sport amongst us blacks. Unless you send your child to a traditional cricketing school in the surburbs he might not even know what cricket is. Some people even though they understand cricket they just don't like it. It would be important to see how many black players play cricket than to count the number of black SA citizens. As it is every team already have one or two players playing franchise cricket, this quota policy is just waste of time...

  • heathrf1974 on October 23, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    They could use the quota system for lower grades but not the national side. You pick you're best team. Many politicians in SA are just populists.

  • on October 23, 2013, 5:17 GMT

    Quotas are both good and bad, it is more a situation about how exactly they are applied and integrated into the selection process.

    I would have loved to have seen more of Mfuneko Ngam, however physically he was not able to continue his career. Hopefully we will see more from the black community begin to come through the ranks.

    'Forcing' people into circumstances where they are at very least perceived to be out of their depth can, depending on their mental strength, cause them to fail under the pressure which just "proves" the naysayers "right" In some of these cases it was not the player's sporting ability which was inferior but there ability to handle the off-field pressure which lead to their poor performance

  • on October 23, 2013, 4:20 GMT

    To me it's simple. If you're in a cricket team because of your colour and not because you're the best player available for selection, it will present problems, some serious, some not so serious. Your team mates will resent you because a better player than you is sitting out. You are not good enough to be there so you'll be out of your depth. You will know the resentment of your team mates and some fans so you definitely will NOT be 100% mentally focused. Ask

  • on October 23, 2013, 3:59 GMT

    Apartheid and the quota policy is indefensivle. Two wrongs don't make a right.

    What gets ignored in this debate is the fact that most black african don't like cricket. Football player Steven Pienaar is more popular among black african than Jacques Kallis & Dale Steyn currently.

    Back also when Lucas Radebe, Quinton Fortune & Benni McCarthy played in the premier league, they were more popular than Pollock, Allan Donald, Klusener, Gibbs etc in their prime.

    When Ntini was at the peak of is powers in the mid 2000's that was the only period when black S Africa's really got into cricket. But football was still paramount.

    Its like trying to attack indians in guyana/trinidad to play football - when they all about cricket. Dead end.

    The mistake CSA have done is not get into the rural black communities & promote to sport from the grassroots level, but it makes no sense punishing the good white players who merit a place on ability.

  • on October 23, 2013, 3:59 GMT

    Apartheid and the quota policy is indefensivle. Two wrongs don't make a right.

    What gets ignored in this debate is the fact that most black african don't like cricket. Football player Steven Pienaar is more popular among black african than Jacques Kallis & Dale Steyn currently.

    Back also when Lucas Radebe, Quinton Fortune & Benni McCarthy played in the premier league, they were more popular than Pollock, Allan Donald, Klusener, Gibbs etc in their prime.

    When Ntini was at the peak of is powers in the mid 2000's that was the only period when black S Africa's really got into cricket. But football was still paramount.

    Its like trying to attack indians in guyana/trinidad to play football - when they all about cricket. Dead end.

    The mistake CSA have done is not get into the rural black communities & promote to sport from the grassroots level, but it makes no sense punishing the good white players who merit a place on ability.

  • on October 23, 2013, 4:20 GMT

    To me it's simple. If you're in a cricket team because of your colour and not because you're the best player available for selection, it will present problems, some serious, some not so serious. Your team mates will resent you because a better player than you is sitting out. You are not good enough to be there so you'll be out of your depth. You will know the resentment of your team mates and some fans so you definitely will NOT be 100% mentally focused. Ask

  • on October 23, 2013, 5:17 GMT

    Quotas are both good and bad, it is more a situation about how exactly they are applied and integrated into the selection process.

    I would have loved to have seen more of Mfuneko Ngam, however physically he was not able to continue his career. Hopefully we will see more from the black community begin to come through the ranks.

    'Forcing' people into circumstances where they are at very least perceived to be out of their depth can, depending on their mental strength, cause them to fail under the pressure which just "proves" the naysayers "right" In some of these cases it was not the player's sporting ability which was inferior but there ability to handle the off-field pressure which lead to their poor performance

  • heathrf1974 on October 23, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    They could use the quota system for lower grades but not the national side. You pick you're best team. Many politicians in SA are just populists.

  • Starboomber on October 23, 2013, 5:31 GMT

    The thing is there is no development, black schools don't play cricket even amongst themselves. Soccer is the main sport amongst us blacks. Unless you send your child to a traditional cricketing school in the surburbs he might not even know what cricket is. Some people even though they understand cricket they just don't like it. It would be important to see how many black players play cricket than to count the number of black SA citizens. As it is every team already have one or two players playing franchise cricket, this quota policy is just waste of time...

  • Romanticstud on October 23, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    Quotas ... What is that? ... Why even talk about it? The best available 11 should always take to the field ... be they caucasian, mixed race, african, asian or any other tone of skin colour ... that should not matter ... The only thing that should matter is the ability. South Africa have a bunch of fans that expect the side to win. If they're the best they MUST WIN. It is not a question of second. That is why South African fans are so disappointed every time South Africa has been knocked out of a major sporting competition ... You cannot plat the BEST side if you have to mix the colours and they are not the BEST ... It is like making a chocolate cake ... If you have inferior ingredients, it won't taste as good.

    So choose the BEST team.

  • on October 23, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    What about solving the problem that is at hand - racism - instead of destroying cricket in South Africa! South Africa does have a "history" after all and only a very naive person would believe that there is no racism whatsoever in white South Africa. Having said that cricket - and sport - doesn't lie. The ball doesn't swing too much or too little because it is a black person bowling or batting. The superior skill of bowler or batsmen is decisive in the end not the colour of one''s skin. Remember the West Indies in 80s and early 90s? Were they good because anybody gave them special favours or because they were so much better than everybody else? Zimbabwe: fair point. But, how much better would they have been with Ballance (England) and de Grandhomme (New Zealand) in their side? How much better would they have been if Andy Flower was Paul Strang were still in the country to pass on their knowledge to budding black cricketers. Solving racism with more racism seems a tad illogical to me.

  • on October 23, 2013, 7:24 GMT

    Even though it's a controversial decision, it has to happen if Cricket in SA, wishes to become a national sport followed/played by everyone, not just a small minority of people. If you are a talented player like Kallis, Dale etc, than no one can stop you from playing for your country. But, people need to understand majority of the population in SA are black, who needs be given a greater chance if SA hopes to attract greater poll of talent for the future.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on October 23, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    Reservations, quotas, "affirmative action" - are all wrong. Any system which subverts MERIT is wrong. When you subvert MERIT, you kill the quest for excellence and that's what people seek in sport, education, career, etc. There WILL always be a particular class of people who will excel. People who have the right value systems towards discipline, practice and the 'need to excel'. More often than not, these values are ingrained at home and honed at school. These value systems can be inculcated into a population irrespective of socio-economic-political disadvantages. It takes 10 years ( the schooling years) to effect a turnaround in society. After that term, if no progress is made, any quota/reservation is a hand-out and the recipient is only feels more backward and inadequate and incapable of competing. That's the TRUTH which many a country need to learn, including South Africa and especially India!

  • ZCFOutkast on October 23, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    We must do everything in our power to employ positive discrimination to its fullest in order to reverse this kind of nonsense that has bedevilled our people for centuries!

    Looking at a lot of those farmers who represented Zimbabwe over the years, there were several players of the Mbangwa, Madondo, Matambanadzo generation who were far superior to those batsmen but for long were ignored.

    Look at how long it took for Philander to be recognised? Season after season of top FC performances but no Test cap to show for it! In the past we've seen one season wonders Abbott, de Kock&Marchant all get chances but why wasn't the same courtesy extended to Mbhalati&Gqamane? That's precisely why Thami's agent said "Quotas were necessary precisely so that merit could be acknowledged. Good Black players would never have been picked without them." Like all of us, he knows first hand where Thami is concerned.