Gatvol Tsolekile speaks out

2014-05-04 15:00

Discarded Proteas wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile has finally broken his silence on being sidelined by the national selectors.

Tsolekile, who played three test matches for the Proteas in 2004 before being dropped by then coach Ray Jennings, said black players needed more protection as the current professional system was not conducive to helping them.

He moved to the Highveld Lions in 2009, where he mounted a serious challenge as the Proteas backup wicketkeeper, but never got close to adding to his international caps despite numerous tours with the Proteas test team.

“Being the only African cricket player in the test setup was not easy and

with the team performing as well as it was, it was always going to be tough to break in,” a despondent Tsolekile told Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula at a dinner conversation at Sascoc House last week.

Tsolekile was part of the national setup from August 2012, when he was drafted in as a replacement for Mark Boucher, who was a victim of a freak eye injury that ended his test career. Tsolekile’s contract was terminated in February on the eve of the second test against Australia in Port Elizabeth.

Tsolekile, who was the fourth black African to represent the Proteas at test level, travelled with the Proteas and was part of every subsequent tour.

He also took a dig at Western Province Cricket, saying it has not done enough to push through black African cricketers.

He made his name with Western Province and the Cape Cobras before relocating to the Lions at the end of the 2009/10 season after he lost his contract.

“I am the only African test cricketer who originates from the Cape Town area and also the only one who graduated to play senior cricket for Western Province and the Cape Cobras. Development is not happening at all,” Tsolekile said.

“I have the facts but the sports department and Sascoc [SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee] need to intervene and get someone who is accountable so underprivileged clubs be taken care of.”

Mbalula, who had met minority groups AfriForum and Solidarity on Wednesday, said his department was ready for any legal backlash that was due from the bodies. They have approached the Equality Court to mediate in the quota matter, in which Mbalula has called for the implementation of a 60-40 racial split in sports.

“We will be able to prove in court that quotas are not an imposition but addressing a redress. The resolution says don’t do away with quotas but use them as a stick to ensure that those who don’t want to transform must transform,” Mbalula said.“I knew that we would be confronted and that they would do anything in their power to oppose our transformation plans.”

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