South Africa news December 3, 2008

South Africa aim to end quotas by 2011

Cricinfo staff

The selection of Herschelle Gibbs in 1998 came at the start of South Africa's quota system © Getty Images

South Africa's officials say they hope to replace the controversial quota system with merit-based selection by 2011. The plan, which falls under the transformation process already in place, will be reviewed every year and culminate, officials hope, in merit-based selection across the board.

"The goal is to get merit-based selection at all levels of cricket," CSA chief executive Gerald Majola told The Age. "We have decided to continue with the target transformation policy for the next three years, with a review at the end of each year. At the end of the three years we hope we can then move to merit-based selection across the board."

The target transformation policy - the formal name for Cricket South Africa's so-called quota system - was introduced in 1998 to gain a better balance in the number of non-white players at the highest level of South African cricket. It has seen Makhaya Ntini, Ashwell Prince and Hashim Amla ranked among the world's best.

Yet it continues to polarise opinion with many concerns that the system is little more than tokenism. As recently as March this year, Andre Nel was rumoured to be considering his future after he was omitted from South Africa's squad to tour India. A row subsequently broke out between coach Mickey Arthur and the CSA president, Norman Arendse, when it transpired that the squad didn't feature sufficient players of colour as required by the transformation policy.

Twelve months ago, South African Cricketers' Association (SACA) chief executive Tony Irish confirmed that the top 25 cricketers in the country had called upon CSA to do away with quotas in the selection of the national team.

"The players feel that as soon as a racial number is set for selection of the team it leads to a divisive dynamic within the team," Irish said, "and it is also degrading to the players of colour who should be there on merit yet are labelled a quota/target player."

South Africa have picked seven coloured players - Prince, Amla, Ntini, Robin Peterson, Jean-Paul Duminy, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Monde Zondeki - in their 15-man squad to tour Australia next week.