Cricket South Africa is likely to have the ministerial ban on hosting or bidding for major events lifted after meeting with transformation targets this season. The sanction was placed on CSA last April by the sports minister after an annual transformation report found that they had failed to meet targets. CSA has since introduced and implemented targets, and will present next month numbers that exceed expectations.
When CSA announced their intentions in September, they committed, over the course of a season, to playing a minimum average of six players of colour in a starting XI (54%) of whom at least two (18%) would be black African. That meant that instead of imposing a stipulated number of players of colour that needed to take the field in each match, CSA gave themselves room to be flexible. Over the 29 international matches played between September and March, South Africa have fielded 176 - or 55.1% - players of colour of whom 61 (19.1%) are black African. The maximum number of players of colour in a single match in the 2016-17 season was seven with as many as four black Africans featuring in the ODI against Ireland and two of the three T20s against Sri Lanka.
Rather than a colour by numbers exercise, under Haroon Lorgat in particular, CSA have embraced transformation as a way to access black Africans, who form a majority of the country's population, and to turn cricket into a more inclusive game. Coach Russell Domingo said he can see how the policy has worked.
"I sit and watch game at Centurion and the demographics of our support base seems so different," he said. "It's fantastic to see people of different races and cultures supporting the Proteas. To be part of that is something special."
He had particular praise for the country's only black African batsman, Temba Bavuma, who did not add to his century count this season but has established himself as key to the Test middle order. "I've just had a long chat with Temba and while his numbers might not be spectacular at this stage of his career, he won us a Test match in Hobart, he's won a Test match in Wellington, and he's played a massive part in winning a Test match in Perth. He's made some unbelievably important innings at crucial times.
"I compare him to Ashwell Prince, who used to get a lot of runs when we were 100 for 5 and very few runs when we were 300 for 5, and finding that sort of balance and that sort of intensity when he's batting and things are tight and when things are good as well. There's still a lot of learning for him to do but he's going to be a special player for South Africa. Kagiso [Rabada] is already a champion. He has achieved some wonderful things. It's great to be part of this new generation of players. They're all conducting themselves in a fantastic way."
Rabada is among those who have spoken about the responsibility they feel as flagbearers for a generation of change. "We've got lots of talent coming up and it's a lot more open and diverse," he said in an interview earlier this year.
Should the ministry lift its sanction, it could potentially clear the way for South Africa to host a World T20 - an edition of the tournament in 2018 has been talked about among Full Members for some time but has not been inked into the international calendar as yet. The ministry's ban was also imposed on rugby, netball and athletics but already they have thrown support behind SA Rugby's bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, which bodes well for the sanction being lifted.