Loots Bosman: 'When you are competing with white players and you are black, you have no chance'

Former South Africa opener puts team's inability to win World Cups down to poor culture

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Loots Bosman claimed the team environment at the 2007 World Cup and the 2007 and 2010 T20 World Cups was very bad

Loots Bosman claimed the team environment at the 2007 World Cup and the 2007 and 2010 T20 World Cups were very bad  •  Gallo Images/Getty Images

Loots Bosman has put South Africa's inability to win a major tournament down to poor culture, which he said left players of colour feeling excluded. The former opening batter was speaking strictly about the time he was part of the team, which included the 2007 World Cup and the 2007 and 2010 T20 World Cups, as he highlighted broader problems within the system.
"There was no chance of us winning a World Cup. The team was divided," Bosman said at CSA's Social Justice and Nation-Building hearings. "We go into camps where we buy into one thing and then you deal with the same person who treats you like you don't exist. How are you going to win a World Cup when you don't back the guy next to you?"
Bosman detailed instances of foul language and private conversations which he felt belittled him. "The environment was bad. Most of the time, the guys don't greet you. They will just look at you. You could see they don't care that you are greeting. They literally look the other way. They made you feel as though you don't belong there.
"Most of the time, we [players of colour] were carrying drinks. You could see when you go and take something, for instance if someone is batting and someone needs gloves, you have to rush to the dressing room and grab someone's gloves, and you walk in while they are talking and when you hear things they are talking about. It was sad.
"There was an occasion where I was 12th man and you literally can't look away. There was a time when I didn't see someone wanted something. These guys would shout and say, "f****** wake up, stop sleeping." That language was a normal thing. The management could hear that too."
While he did not give specific examples of what was said other than the expletive, Bosman was particularly critical of the way he was treated at the 2007 World Cup where he did not bat in the only match he played, against West Indies. "I was told I would bat at No. 3. I was told to pad up but then a wicket fell and I was told, 'You're not batting.' Then another wicket fell. And I didn't go. I ended up not batting. And the next game I was dropped. How can I be dropped? I did nothing. I didn't bat and when I was supposed to bat, I kept being shunted down the order."
Asked by the ombudsman Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza whether instances such as that made him lose his confidence, Bosman said, "it breaks you. Inside. You cry inside. You put on a brave face but inside you are so broken."
Bosman is not the only player to talk about the 2007 World Cup at the SJN. Last week, Roger Telemachus revealed that it was at that tournament that a clique of white players who controlled the team were nicknamed "The Big Five." Bosman indicated the group was almost hostile. "That environment was just bad. You could just see those guys don't want us [players of colour] to play there. They couldn't hide it. It was painful to be there. There was no chance we were going to win the World Cup in that environment."
Like Telemachus, Bosman did not mention the names of the clique but hinted that they were specialists in the same discipline as him - batting. "There has always been this thing that there are no black batters. There are black batters but they are not being used. I was there," he said. "When you are competing with white players and you are black, you have no chance. When you are black, you are going to struggle."
Bosman concluded by saying he spoke for many former players of colour, some of whom have not been able to express themselves for fear of compromising their career possibilities. He is currently not involved in cricket in South Africa, after last coaching in the Northern Cape, but is trying to find a way in. "I don't just speak for myself. I spoke for the retired black players. We are all in this. There are a lot of current players who are scared to say something. We are all suppressed and neglected. We lost a lot and we are hurting inside."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent