Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent
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The South African Cricketers' Association (SACA) is "considering its legal options," against Cricket South Africa after the latter took a decision to increase the racial quotas at domestic level without consulting the players' union.
The resolution to increase the numbers of players of colour from five to six in franchise cricket, including three black Africans, and from six to seven in provincial cricket, including four black Africans, was taken two weeks before the contract window closes and will leave most teams scrambling to make up numbers.
It comes against the backdrop of South Africa's elimination from the World Cup at the semi-final stage.
South Africa does not have a quota system at international level but has committed to accelerating the process lower down after pressure from the sports ministry.
SACA's concern is not the decision itself, but the sidestepping of an agreement for a three-month consultation period and the short notice which will leave players across the board in the lurch.
"I want to stress that it is not the decision itself which we are unhappy about. We represent all players across all colour groups, so we don't take positions on transformation policy decisions," Tony Irish, SACA's chief executive told ESPNcricinfo.
"However SACA has an agreement with CSA governing the process to be followed when making changes to the numbers and this requires a three-month prior consultation with SACA and franchises before making such decisions.
"That process is important so that franchises are able to plan their contracted players and align those with the transformation numbers. CSA has totally disregarded this agreement and has not consulted us or the franchises at all. We were unaware that this issue was even before the CSA Board."
As far as SACA was concerned, the issue of quotas was still under consideration with research on how best to quicken the development of players of colour still to be examined in detail.
"There has been recent research done jointly by SACA and the CSA Cricket Services division on how we can better align the player contracted group with group of players who actually play," Irish said. "None of this research was even considered by the CSA Board nor did it consult its own Cricket Committee."
Irish believes that a late scramble for players with budgets already finalised could result in them being offered inferior financial deals, playing franchise cricket on low-paid, semi pro contracts, or playing semi pro cricket without a contract at all.
"SACA's concern is that, because most of the six franchises and 13 provincial, semi-professional, sides have finalised their player deals already, they will not have signed up enough players of colour to meet the new quota," he said.
"Many of the players playing under low paid contracts, or without any benefits at all, will be players of colour and black African players. As a players union this isn't acceptable to us, and it undermines the player contracting system."
SACA has "taken this up with CSA but received no response," according to Irish, and will now "consider its legal options." A CSA spokesperson told The Citizen newspaper that it had received a letter from SACA and concerns were being "addressed by the board."
South Africa's fluctuating stance on quotas hardened in the lead up to national elections last year, when the sports minister, Fikile Mbalula, threatened to withdraw the international status of teams that were not at least 50% representative.
Although he later backpedalled on that, he met with administrators from both cricket and rugby to ascertain their commitment to change.
Mbalula responded with pride to South Africa's World Cup performance after their semi-final defeat. "Your performance on distant terrain is testimony of the Proteas' no surrender spirit and demonstration of our South African indomitable winning spirit," he said.
"We stand together as a nation and salute you with outmost respect. You made us proud as a nation as you fought until the last minute. You are winners in my eyes."