Ntini to develop black cricket

2010-06-09 00:00

MAKHAYA Ntini conceded in a recent interview that “the system is not producing enough black cricketers”.

Ntini was discussing his plans to open up a cricket academy in the Eastern Cape. He admits that the current development structure is not yielding the desired results. His objective in opening the academy is to identify and develop cricketers from the rural areas who are not being reached by existing programmes.

It’s clear that the current system is failing black cricketers but having it confirmed by Ntini, one of its few success stories, makes it all the more real. Millions of rands have been pumped into the development process with precious few positive results and little accountability for its spectacular lack of success.

Ntini says the status quo of cricket development in the rural communities is a far cry from the days of Khaya Majola and Dr Ali Bacher. In their day cricket was booming in the rural black communities.

Ntini remembers how schools would get together to play games, but he says this is now no longer the case and that he would like to see this change.

We do not have to look very far to see how the development programme has failed even its urban cricketers. In KwaZulu-Natal, Dolphins cricket has failed in over a decade to develop a local Zulu player able to represent the Dolphins consistently.

The introduction of the controversial quota system has not helped matters either.

One of its many pitfalls has been the placement of non-white players in representative teams without an accompanying system to support them.

I witnessed first hand the challenges that this brings when an exceptionally talented black cricketer from a disadvantaged community in Pietermaritzburg was chosen for a representative side.

Being told to attend practices, which were over an hour’s taxi trip away from home, having no transport money and very little kit resulted in a potential provincial cricketer being lost.

Players such as these deserve their selection, but we have to appreciate the challenges they face and support them appropriately. Is this not the job of Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) development programme?

The easy way out is to select cricketers from schools or clubs, but in so doing an enormous number of potential cricketers are overlooked. The net needs to be cast far wider.

For rural black cricketers wanting to pursue cricket as a career there are very few opportunities under the current system.

Ntini admits that as a black cricketer you need to be 10% more dedicated, more prepared and ahead of everyone else to compete.

It’s these cricketers that Ntini wants to help and for them there will be no better role model. His academy has the potential to give hope to a new generation of cricketers, but the support of CSA will be paramount in ensuring that this vision is realised.

• Neil Johnson is a former Natal, WP, and Zimbabwe all-rounder who lives and coaches in Pietermaritzburg.

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