Former batsman Ashwell Prince has claimed that several South African players were racially abused on their tour to Australia in 2005 and the team leadership urged them to continue playing regardless. In a Twitter thread, "100% inspired by Michael Holding," Prince called the South African system "broken," and said "there has never been any unity" for the decade he was part of the national team.
The incident Prince referred to has been well documented and occurred in Perth during the first Test of South Africa's tour in 2005-06. Prince, Makhaya Ntini and Garnett Kruger were taunted with racial slurs from the crowd, while white players including Shaun Pollock and Justin Kemp were also subjected to heckling.
At the time, the CSA management made an official complaint to the ICC match referee Chris Broad, but Prince said players' concerns had been dismissed. "When we brought this to the attention of the team leadership at lunch, we were told, "ah it's only some people in the crowd, not the majority, let's get back out there," Prince posted.
Mickey Arthur, South Africa's coach at the time, remembered, however, that the team management took the incident seriously. "We made a stand against it," he told ESPNcricinfo. "The team management went to Cricket Australia, who put extra security on the boundary. From my recollection, the team was upset about it as a whole. I don't remember any player saying, 'let's just go back out there,' flippantly. It affected us massively as a team."
Arthur added that he stands by the Black Lives Matter movement. "There is absolutely no room for racism whatsoever. Having been at Pakistan and Sri Lanka, whatever race, colour, religion everybody is, everybody is together."
In his thread, Prince also took broader aim at attitudes to the transformation policy in place, saying that "any form of transformation has been met with resistance," and that, "real, authentic change, inclusivity and non-racialism has never been able to establish itself."
Prince has spoken out in the past on the issue, and he indicated his thread is " only the tip of the iceberg," and called for "tough, honest, uncomfortable conversation." As coach of the Cobras, he has been critical towards Cricket South Africa over the ongoing player exodus.
Prince's Twitter thread adds to the ongoing discussions around BLM, specifically in a South African context. On Monday, Lungi Ngidi called for the South African team to "make a stand like the rest of the world," over BLM. That prompted criticism from former international players including Boeta Dippenaar and Pat Symcox.
On Thursday, the South African Cricketers Association threw their weight behind Ngidi and the concept of athlete activism and later that evening CSA issued a statement expressing their support for BLM.
"Black Lives Matter. It is as simple as that," CSA's acting CEO Jacques Faul said. "As a national sporting body representing more than 56 million South Africans and with the privileged position of owning a platform as large as we do, it is of vital importance that we use our voice to educate and listen to others on topics involving all forms of discrimination."