Why transformation is failing

2010-02-03 00:00

MICKEY Arthur’s “resignation” as Protea coach has thrust the underlying issue of transformation in South African cricket to the fore yet again. Arthur stated that he and the board did not agree on certain issues, so much so that he could not see a way forward. It’s apparent that the issue of transformation, which has been simmering under the surface for some time, proved the major stumbling block and one that ultimately sealed Mickey Arthur’s fate.

There’s no secret that the board of South African Cricket wish to see more players of colour in the national mix. The fact that they expect to achieve this without compromising the team’s success or ability to win trophies is simply unrealistic. In my opinion, Mickey Arthur’s resignation is yet another refusal by Cricket South Africa to accept responsibility for the lack of development of cricket at franchise level and below.

Symptoms of the current development programme’s ineptness are every­where. We’ve seen talented players of colour pushed into franchise cricket prematurely with devastating effects on their cricketing careers. A glimpse of cricket at franchise level provides further proof that transformation is not happening as it should.

The MTN 40 final played on Friday between the Dolphins and the Warriors in East London saw only two black players take to the field — Makhaya Ntini and Lonwabo Tsotsobe — out of a possible 24. Both of these players are from the Eastern Cape, so where are the black players from KwazuluNatal and other parts of the country?

Makhaya Ntini has flown the flag for black South African cricketers admirably for so long, but in so doing he has created a problem for Cricket South Africa.

While Ntini was fit and performing, it appeared they could rest on their laurels. But what would happen when Makhaya got injured or dropped — who would be waiting in the wings? The fact that Makhaya has been dropped and there’s not a single cricketer the selectors can replace him with is another clear indication that the development programme has failed.

Linda Zondi, a former first-class cricketer, has initiated a township cricket tournament in the Durban area. His aim is to see more black cricketers coming to the fore.

He, too, admits to feeling frustrated at the slow progress of the development of black players when there is so much enthusiasm for the game in the townships.

I have seen this first-hand in Pietermaritzburg, working with teenagers who are so keen to improve their cricketing skills. These cricketers make up for what they lack in terms of cricket equipment with dedication and pure enjoyment of the game.

I see passion in these boys and an enthusiasm for cricket very seldom seen at first-class level these days. The fact that the current development programme has been unable to harness this keenness when it is so evident is a tragedy.

It’s about time that Cricket South Africa got their job descriptions right.

There’s a desperate need to overhaul the development programme so there is clear accountability on the franchises to produce black players.

If they succeed in doing this, the national selectors and coach can get on with their jobs of selecting and developing a winning team.

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