Former South Africa batsman Daryll Cullinan has revealed that, during his playing days, there was initially some resistance among the players to the transformation process that sought to integrate black and coloured cricketers into the national team. Speaking on the eighth episode of ESPNcricinfo Talking Cricket, to be aired on Friday on Sony ESPN, Cullinan said that there was mutual distrust between the players and the administrators at the time, with each party having a different agenda.
"We didn't see the picture that we know today, that there is a much bigger picture to sport and transformation," Cullinan said. "The importance of it, the understanding of it, I don't think we grasped. So, there was resistance.
"Slowly, we started to appreciate and understand where everybody is coming from. I wish that had happened more often and quicker because suddenly two worlds have come together and we've been very suspicious of each other - both sides had hidden agendas."
According to Cullinan, the team did not resent the selection of players on quota, but occasionally there was a clash of interests.
"I don't think anybody had an issue with who was selected, but it did come to head where it got to stage where if a guy was…I remember Lance Klusener was one, he was being left out of the team and we said, 'No hang on, we want to be compensated for that'."
Recalling the mixed reactions to the inclusion of Makhaya Ntini, Cullinan said his achievements over the years remained under-appreciated.
"He is a story on its own, he is worth a movie being made," he said. "I don't think his life, where he came from and what he achieved has been truly appreciated. But there was potential and the system was also starting to get a little hungry; politically they wanted a black cricketer, wanted to see transformation being recognised and they wanted to see kids watching TV. But, Makhaya was brilliant, Makhaya made it [on] his own and that's why I say he is a remarkable, remarkable human being."
Cullinan rued that football was a far more popular choice among black youth than cricket. "Soccer has been the most popular sport amongst our black youth," he said. "If you take model-C schools, which I understand and know as government schools, they have three times more soccer fields than cricket fields because there's a demand for it."
He said there were practical difficulties that needed to be addressed to get more black youngsters into cricket. "Now there's [the problem of] logistics. When you have got a public transport system which is not efficient, it's problematic getting from certain areas. So, a young kid [has] got to travel an hour and a half both ways to come to a cricket academy. A round trip is going to cost you 40 Rand. His mom is a single mom, domestic worker, that's a quarter of a monthly salary, and he is on an taxi and you don't know how safe it's going to be.
"Ntini is one [in] a what, hundred thousand, a million, you know what I'm trying to say. It's quite remarkable that we still see kids coming through but if you're going to now develop black cricketers, you need to get those numbers, and the third thing is club cricket in the townships. My thought is you've got to build that and, with the legacy of apartheid, it is a huge challenge."
Watch ESPNcricinfo Talking Cricket at 10pm IST this Friday, and the repeat at 12pm on Sunday, on SONY ESPN