CSA to appoint black African selector

A jubilant Makhaya Ntini after dismissing Ricky Ponting Getty Images

Cricket South Africa will soon - possibly as early as next year - appoint a black African selector in accordance with their transformation policy, in an attempt to better represent the country's demographics. South Africa's population is more than 80% black African but they are largely under-represented in cricket.

"We want to transform and reflect the demographic of our country as best as possible. A black African selector is needed to help address representation on all levels, which includes management," Jacques Faul, acting CSA chief executive told ESPNCricinfo.

He clarified that the move should not be seen as one which will push the case for black players only. "Just as white selectors don't only select white players, so would black selectors not only select black players," Faul said.

ESPNCricinfo understands that former fast bowler Makhaya Ntini is the frontrunner for the position, even after his criticism of the team make-up ahead of the Australia tour. Ntini was quoted saying reserve wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile would have played for the national team if he was white, but Tsolekile brushed off the remarks. Despite being nationally contracted in February and identified as the replacement to Mark Boucher, Tsolekile has not played a Test because AB de Villiers has been promoted to the role of the permanent keeper.

In Perth, South Africa played their 200th Test since readmission but in that time, only five black Africans have represented the country. Of those, Ntini played 101 Tests but the other four: Mfuneko Ngam, Monde Zondeki, Tsolekile and Lonwabo Tsotsobe have less than 20 between them and South Africa have not fielded a single black African in Test cricket in the past year.

It is a record CSA wants to change. "I don't think people realise what a big gap Ntini left when he retired from international cricket. He was a great role model and obvious choice for the Test team," Faul said. "It is important for us to improve on this statistic. We hope that in the next 200 Tests we will be able to do that."

CSA does not enforce a quota system but state in their policy they intend to make cricket a "truly national game." They fund an academy at the University of Fort Hare which Ngam runs, exclusively for black African cricketers to further that aim. Ntini was due to start an academy in the Mdantsane township in the Eastern Cape for the same purpose but has not been able to secure sufficient funding to get the project off the ground.

Failed endeavours like that are what CSA hopes to avoid in future. Their transformation policy thus "recognises the fact that, although now all South Africans are equal under the constitution, serious inequalities still exist in terms of creating opportunities and providing facilities and adequate coaching for cricketers of colour. The transformation charter carries the responsibility of capacity building in all communities and thus making cricket a truly national game."

Faul said CSA are encouraged by the "black African talent within the franchise system." Players such as batsman Khaya Zondo from the Dolphins Temba Bavuma, left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso from the Lions and wicketkeeper batsman Mangaliso Mosehle from the Titans are on the national radar, with Phangiso likely to be picked in the Twenty20 squad to play New Zealand.

The new selector will not be in place in time to pick those squads, though. South Africa are expected to name their T20 and Test squad for the New Zealand series on Thursday.