Cape Cobras will not be sanctioned for missing Cricket South Africa's (CSA) transformation target in a four-day first-class fixture last month. They will, however, be expected to make up the numbers in a future match.
ESPNcricinfo has learned that a meeting between the Cobras and CSA, which took place shortly after it was reported that CSA were yet to launch its inquiry, resulted in the board all but accepting the Cobras' reasons for their team selection and undertaking to discuss the implementation of targets at domestic level, which could change in the near future.
As reported two weeks ago, CSA was due to consider aligning domestic targets with national targets, which are calculated on average over a season, after their coaches' conference in May. This did not happen but the matter is expected to be on the agenda at CSA's next meeting along with a proposal to not distinguish between players of colour (including those of Asian or Mixed Race heritage) and black African players.
Currently, the national team must field an average of six players of colour of which at least two must be black African, while domestic franchise teams must field six players of colour including at least three black Africans. The national team's targets are calculated over the course of a season, but the domestic teams have been expected to adhere to targets in every game until the Cobras opted not to.
By the system followed at national-team level, if only two black African players are included in the XI in any match and four in another, the target would be considered to have been met.
For their first fixture against Warriors, the Cobras fielded only two black African players in their XI, among seven players of colour. The Cobras explained their selection to CSA in writing before the match, saying they prioritised giving those players who had returned from the Test tour of India (such as Zubayr Hamza and George Linde) game time while also retaining in-form players from the previous three rounds. They claim CSA understood and approved their team.
When the match began and the team was made public, CSA was questioned about the composition of the Cobras' line-up. CSA spokesperson Thamie Mthembu told ESPNcricinfo that an inquiry would be conducted to ascertain whether the Cobras had a valid reason for missing the target.
CSA is yet to deliver its findings in writing to the Cobras or to make them public but sources have revealed that the franchise will not be penalised. Instead, they will be expected to field four black African players in a fixture later in the season, in what is essentially an application of the system used with the national team.
Whether that will prompt a change that applies to throughout the domestic system is yet to be seen. The five other domestic franchises have treated the target as mandatory since they were implemented in 2016 but, having seen the Cobras successfully argue otherwise, they may be tempted to do the same.