Smoothing the way for black cricketers

2013-07-28 14:00

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New Proteas selector Linda Zondi tells Khanyiso Tshwaku he does not want black players to go through what he went through.

If one looks at Linda Zondi’s first-class profile, it reeks of untapped potential – with only three matches played.

What Zondi (pictured below) lacks in first-class playing experience, he more than makes up for in selection and scouting nous, which has seen him spend 12 years in the Dolphins’ structures.

The 37-year-old Glenwood High School old boy said he does not want up-and-coming black players to suffer from lack of opportunity like he did.

“From a skills point of view I was more than adequate, but the administration let me down. That is when I decided I should move into the ranks of administration,” said Zondi.

“Young cricketers should not have the problems we had as players. There is no good culture being passed down.

“The only thing being passed down is frustration and a lack of opportunities. We have been down that road and we have to change it.”

Since readmission in 1992, South Africa has only had five African cricketers playing test cricket.

They are Makhaya Ntini, Mfuneko Ngam, Thami Tsolekile, Monde Zondeki and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

While Zondi said he is excited and honoured to be a selector, he will not immediately act as a conduit for African players to get into the national team.

But he said that more should be done at franchise level to ensure there is a steady stream of black players eligible for the national team.

“We need to sort out the structures to ensure that black players get through to franchise level and that their coaches understand what we want in terms of transformation at the highest level.

“If these players don’t get franchise opportunities, there’s no way we will be able to pick them for national duty. The opportunities exist, but the key is the creation of the structure.

“I will meet with franchise coaches and get them to understand they have to play black players on merit, not because they have to.”

Zondi, who was a wicketkeeper in the 1995 Under-19 team, which included Ntini and Mark Boucher, said black players can no longer be classed as bowlers only.

He cited Dolphins batsman Khaya Zondo and Titans wicketkeeper Mangaliso Mosehle, who have been exceptions to the “rule”, as they are players who pick themselves as front-line batsmen.

“Those two showed there can be a departure from the notion that most blackcricketers are only bowlers.

“We need to move away from that mind-set,” he said.

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