Increased quotas for SA domestic cricket
In an effort to quicken the rate of transformation in South African cricket, domestic teams will be subject to increased quotas from the 2014-15 season. CSA's board approved a new quota that will require franchises to field at least five players of colour, of which two must be black Africans. Provincial teams will have to have six players of colour in their XIs, including at least three black Africans.
For the last decade the six franchises were expected to name four players of colour in their starting XI and provincial teams had to have five, while the black African component is a relatively new aspect of the system. Shortly after the start of last summer, CSA introduced this target within a target, which was initially proposed as a two-black-Africans-per-franchise quota. CSA backtracked on that in October 2013, only to enforce it a season later.
"It is a fact that we have still not succeeded in unlocking the vast cricket talent among black African people and next season we will expect the affiliate and franchise presidents, CEOs and their coaches to assume direct responsibility to do so." Haroon Lorgat, the CSA chief executive said.
The increased focus on black African players comes as South African cricket struggles to explain the shortage of players from the country's majority race group, to both its fans and government. Although the minister of sport Fikile Mbalula retracted a demand that all national teams must have 60% people of colour, he had specific meetings with five federations, of which cricket was one, to discuss transformation.
South Africa's Test team last fielded a black African player in January 2011, when Lonwabo Tsotsobe played against India. Tsotsobe remains the only regular black African player in the limited-overs teams, although he will miss next month's tour of Sri Lanka as he recovers from ankle surgery.
At lower-levels, South African cricket is more representative. The under-19 team that was victorious in February's World Cup was the most transformed team in South Africa's history. The squad of 15 included eight players of colour with four black Africans. The South Africa A team to tour Australia this year has nine players of colour in the 15-man four-day squad with five black Africans, and ten players of colour in the one-day squad with four black Africans.
Among the franchises, all teams managed to field at least four players of colour throughout the 2013-14 season, and three - Cobras, Lions and Dolphins - fielded five players of colour on average. Cobras and Warriors were the only two franchises whose black African contingent was one player, while Lions, Dolphins, Titans and Knights regularly fielded two black Africans. This suggests they should all be able to meet the new quota comfortably, though Cobras and Warriors may go shopping for black African talent elsewhere.
Other decisions taken at CSA's board meeting were to revamp the second-tier of domestic cricket - the provincial structure. As reported by ESPNcricinfo in May the number of first-class matches played by teams will decrease, with cost-cutting the focus in this level of the game, which is still without a sponsor. "It is critical for us to re-engineer ourselves to ensure future sustainability and growth, and in this process we will search for a new sponsorship to launch this competition in the coming season," Lorgat said.
One area that does not have that problem is women's cricket. Thanks to a deal with financial services company Momentum, the number of contracted players will increase from six to 14, which will mean South Africa has a fully professional women's squad for the first time.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent