Involve more people of colour in coaching - Barnes
Vincent Barnes, South Africa's assistant and bowling coach, believes the lack of black African players in the national team could be the result of a deeper problem that flows from managerial level to the playing field. Barnes, who has been coaching for 17 years and been the national set up since 2003, would like to see transformation taking place throughout the ranks in South African cricket.
"It is a worry that we don't have as many black African players coming through the system. But, we have to develop coaches and administrators of colour as well," he told ESPNCricinfo. "It's no coincidence that players of colour will perform where they are some people of colour involved as well."
Barnes is one of two coaches of colour involved in professional cricket, which includes the national team and the franchises; Warriors' Russell Domingo is the other. While there are some assistant coaches of colour, such as Lawrence Mahatlane who is involved with the Lions, there is a dearth of black African, coloured and Indian coaches, which Barnes thinks may filter down to player development.
South Africa have had one prominent black African player since readmission, Makhaya Ntini, who retired from international cricket in November last year. Currently, Lonwabo Tsotsobe is the only black African player in the national set-up although there have been short stints by Monde Zondeki, Thandi Tshabalala and Thami Tsolekile. International cricket is still not played in any major predominantly black areas, such as the Soweto township outside Johannesburg, where there is a fully functional stadium. Although cricket is played widely among black Africans, the rate of progress of them playing for franchises and, ultimately, international cricket is still slow.
Despite that, representation in the national team by coloureds and Indians has grown and South Africa were able to field six players of colour in their group stage match against Bangladesh in the recent World Cup. Barnes said that the harmony in the group was proof that the racial debate in South African cricket has moved on, at least at the highest level. "We had so many players of different colours, from different cultures and everyone believed that everyone else deserved to be there," he said, while acknowledging that change, lower down, must speed up.
As one of the few people of colour involved in coaching, Barnes has made it part of his mission to help speed that up, as part of his commitment to developing cricket in the country. "I am determined to find and create opportunities for people of colour," he said.
It's no easy task, especially for someone who was denied the opportunity to play international cricket because of his race, but it's Barnes' way of opening doors for others that were slammed shut on him. Barnes played for the Western Province Cricket Board during the apartheid era and also represented Western Province after unity. "I know what's it like to play in intense, high pressure situations and it's up to me to be able to prepare people for that challenge. But sometimes I am harder on players of colour, because I want them to achieve."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent