South Africa news May 9, 2014

SA franchises face higher quota requirement

Franchises teams in South Africa could be required to field a minimum of five players of colour per match, and provincial teams at least six players of colour, for the 2014-15 season as part of ongoing efforts to accelerate transformation. ESPNcricinfo understands CSA are looking to implement the new quota in addition to the current regulation that requires franchise XIs to include at least one black African player, which was introduced last season in response to concerns from the department of sport about the slow rate of change in South Africa's major sports.

The proposal is being considered after a directive from the country's sports minister Fikile Mbalula initially threatened to impose a quota at national level; that was retracted after Mbalula reached an understanding with federations over their development plans. While there are no official targets for South Africa's national team, the franchises will be required to show increased commitment to change.

The South African Cricketers' Association is believed to have preferred a target that would require franchises to field an average of five players a season, because that would allow more breathing room in case of injuries or loss of form. However, they will not oppose the motion, which is likely to be ratified at CSA's board meeting on June 3. CSA did not respond to questions.

Three of the six franchises already meet the proposed requirement. Dolphins, Cobras and Lions regularly fielded five players of colour in last season's first-class competition, with Cobras never fielding fewer than six. On three occasions, the Warriors' first-class XI had five players of colour, while Titans and Knights fielded four players of colour throughout.

A source revealed that both Titans and Knights are spending the off-season trying to contract players of colour. Titans have already secured the services of Tabraiz Shamsi, a left-arm spinner from Dolphins. The source said there was an emphasis on signing black African players, rather than just players of colour, in anticipation of a greater requirement to represent the country's largest demographic group, which makes up 80% of the population.

While Lions often fielded three black African players at first-class level, none of the other franchises matched that number. Dolphins, Titans and Knights had two black African players in their starting XIs at least 60% of the time, Warriors only managed more than one black African twice, and Cobras had only one black African in their first-class XI.

In early April, Mbalula had announced the government would implement a 60% quota in favour of players of colour in its national teams. Sporting federations that failed to meet the criteria would run the risk of being barred from international competition and their state funding being cut.

Following his announcement, Mbalula met with officials from cricket, rugby, athletics, netball and football to discuss the government's expectations. On April 22, Mbalula retracted the statements but said he had reached an understanding with the federations concerned. "Talking is not endless, but we need to find each other," he said. "I am not imposing any 60-40 onto anybody. I've talked to the federations."

The ministry report, compiled by an eminent persons' group, ranked the five sporting codes mentioned above along the following lines: if more than 50% of the national team was made up of players of colour (labeled generic black in the report), it considered the sport 100% transformed and gave it a mark out of 10. Sports then received another score for their black African player percentage, as opposed to mixed-race or Indian descent. If half of the 50% players of colour were black African, the sport would receive 10 out of 10 in the black African section.

Cricket received 10 out of 10 for its transformation in the generic black category and just 3.5 in the black African subsection, which was deemed poor. The report noted that at under-19 level, cricket teams to England and India scored 5 and 8 out of 10 in the black African category, which was regarded as an improvement. It also said, "Cricket is now ready to raise the target for generic black representation from its current 50% level to higher levels (60%)," because "this will further strengthen its longer term human capital base." That explained the reason for the five players of colour requirement, which is 45% of a cricket team.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent