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The black, white and grey of South Africa's latest transformation initiative

If it's a toss-up between these two for the Test XI, who might they pick keeping the new requirements in mind? ICC

Let's save ourselves the history lesson by starting with a few home truths.

South Africa is a country healing after a history of legislated segregation, discrimination and oppression, which created a privileged white minority and a disadvantaged black (referring to all non-whites) and especially disadvantaged black African majority. Sport did not escape any of that.

To right the wrongs of a past steeped in inequality, South Africa has turned to aggressive transformation as its shot at redemption. In cricket that means, for the first time in the 128-year history of the game in the country, more than half the national playing XI will have to be non-white. Cricket South Africa's transformation targets for the men's team - which will be calculated as an average across all formats over the course of a season - are aimed at including six players of colour, of whom at least two must be black African.

The immediate reaction was outrage. Some wondered if South Africa would become another Zimbabwe; others congratulated England and New Zealand for the gains they will make as a result of "white flight". But what of the people directly affected?

Those currently involved stick to the company line of understanding how important transformation is, but many former players, from Pat Symcox to Makhaya Ntini, are against the idea of fixed targets because of what it does to players, both practically and psychologically.

For white players, the opportunities to become professional cricketers are diminished, which will lead to many of them seeking greener pastures in another country or choosing a different sport or career path. As a result, South African cricket will lose the talent it has produced and nurtured through what remains an excellent school and academy system. Even a country as rich in talent as South Africa cannot afford such a drain if it hopes to continue to compete with the best.

For players of colour, the dangers are far greater. The word "target" might as well be pinned to their backs, because that is what they have become. While this policy will give them more chances than ever before, it will also cause more insecurity. These players will never know whether they are in an XI because they are good enough or because they are helping fulfil a target.

There will be exceptions, of course. No one can contest that Kagiso Rabada, who holds the record for the most first-class wickets in a match in South Africa, and who took a hat-trick on ODI debut, merits his place in the South African XI. He is so worthy of his place that he should play every time South Africa do, and now because of the targets, he probably will. Rabada will not have the luxury of being managed the way other top-level bowlers are, and perhaps he will end up bowling all his overs before he turns 30. That might be the price he has to pay for being a once-in-a-generation kind of player.

Many of the rest will be left to wonder whether it is through ability or for other reasons that they make and stay in a side, even those who have track records and reputations. JP Duminy is an obvious example. Although he found form in the recent Centurion Test, with his first half-century in 12 innings, his average of 32.44 is underwhelming for someone who has played at the highest level for eight years. When AB de Villiers returns to the XI, Duminy will compete with Faf du Plessis for a place. Du Plessis also had a dry spell - one fifty in 15 innings - before his hundred in the same match. Without the targets, this would create a selection conundrum, because there is little to choose between Duminy and du Plessis. With the targets, it will likely be Duminy in the XI, but then he has to carry the knowledge that his inclusion could have been influenced by criteria other than cricket.

That is one dilemma but there will be others. What to do when Morne Morkel also returns to action? How to handle it if Temba Bavuma no longer merits his place? Will Simon Harmer ever get another look in or is Dane Piedt guaranteed the specialist spinner's job?

CSA has covered itself somewhat with the proviso that the percentages will be measured over the course of a season and across all formats. Theoretically, then, it could miss the target in Tests - of which South Africa are only due to play nine more this season - and exceed it in ODIs or T20s, the formats in which the team always have more fixtures.

As things stand, since readmission South Africa have fielded more players of colour in shorter formats - 43.7% of T20 caps have been players of colour, and 30% of ODIs players, compared to 25% of Test players. But this creates another and perhaps more serious problem. A context-less ODI or T20 could become a farce in which all 11 players are of colour, to make up for a shortfall in Tests. What sort of message will that send to those players?

There has already been an example of that. Khaya Zondo was part of South Africa's limited-overs squad to India in 2015 and did not play a single game. At the time there was only a loose arrangement regarding transformation, but CSA had come under criticism for not involving enough black African players - Aaron Phangiso travelled through the 2015 World Cup without playing a game - and was trying to rectify that. It only worsened it.

While South Africa were still on tour in India, a group of black cricketers sent a letter to CSA demanding to know why they were being picked for tours only to carry drinks. "If we are not ready for international cricket, stop picking us," the letter said, referencing Zondo and Phangiso. CSA has never clarified whether these concerns were addressed, but if it starts manipulating which matches players are picked for, the board could receive many more such letters.

Naturally, packing the limited-overs teams with players of colour will also have a consequence for white players. The likes of David Miller and Kyle Abbott are already believed to be seeking county deals and this could push them to sign faster. And they won't be the only ones.

This winter alone, South African cricket lost a franchise coach, Rob Walter; a CEO, Pete de Wet; and the national team's logistics manager, Riaan Muller, to New Zealand. HD Ackerman, commentator and batting consultant, relocated to Australia. The losses of people behind the scenes - where too transformation is sought - takes place silently but has wide-ranging effects.

With so few places for so many in South African cricket, levels of distrust are set to rise. One solution is to increase the number of franchises, to create more positions. Since the domestic targets were increased to six players of colour, of whom at least three must be black African, several noteworthy players have struggled to get game time as squads seek balance. Marchant de Lange is one example. He could not get into the Titans team, where Junior Dala is established, and has now moved to Knights. It is not just white players who are affected. Batsman Qaasim Adams, a coloured player, was forced to yo-yo between Titans and Lions, because he also struggled for a regular spot in a team that had to meet criteria for players both of colour and black African.

The differentiation is important because the black African majority were the most affected by the exclusionary policies of the past. They deserve the most redress. Many argue the best way to accomplish that would be to continue ploughing away at the grass-roots, but that is not enough. Wide-ranging programmes from KFC Mini Cricket to academies in townships to scholarships for talented teenagers at the country's most prestigious schools already exist, and while there can never be too many of those, the current problems with transformation have little to do with them.

Recent research has shown that most black African players are lost when they begin to professionalise because of socio-economic pressures to get a job, support an extended family and find security. To combat that, more of them need to be contracted to franchises so they are available for national selection. That only became a requirement two seasons ago, which may be rushing the powers that be to fast-track some players at the expense of others. In the end, the reality is that there simply isn't space for everyone.

If anyone knew how to change that, they would have tried it by now, but as things stand, South Africa is facing up to the fact that it cannot undo hundreds of years of hurt in a few decades. It cannot rewrite colonial and apartheid legacies and it also cannot pretend they don't exist, and it does not know how to put right those evils without doing wrong by someone else. As one senior administrator puts it, "Maybe this will just have to be the sacrifice generation." What happens when we realise they have sacrificed too much?