30 former Proteas express united support for Lungi Ngidi, Black Lives Matter

Lungi Ngidi
Lungi Ngidi
Isuru Sameera/Gallo Images

Thirty former Proteas and five senior coaches have thrown their weight behind Lungi Ngidi and the global Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaign.

Ngidi made headlines last week when he expressed his support for the movement and the need for the Proteas to get behind it too. 

In reaction, Ngidi was met with some harsh reactions on social media including from former Proteas Rudi Steyn, Pat Symcox and Boeta Dippenaar questioning his stance. 

Since Ngidi's comments, former Proteas batsman Ashwell Prince also said he experienced racism during his playing days. 

Other cricketers, including Ethy Mbhalathi, Qaasim Adams and Omphile Ramela, have also since been vocal on the issue. 

On Monday, Sport24 received a statement signed by 30 former Proteas - all players of colour - and five coaches who wanted to air their support for both Ngidi and the BLM movement. 

The group includes Makhaya Ntini, Vernon Philander, Ashwell Prince, Paul Adams, JP Duminy, Charl Langeveldt and Herschelle Gibbs. 

"We commend Lungi Ngidi for supporting Black Lives Matter - and wed like to add our support for it too," the collective statement read. 

"We note the criticism aimed at Lungi for expressing his views and we hope that Cricket South Africa (CSA), together with fellow cricketers - both present and past - will come out strongly in support of BLM.

"We note too that the most outspoken criticism directed at Ngidi has come via former players such as Pat Symcox, Boeta Dippenaar, Rudi Steyn, Brian McMillan and others, and we urge that their views be challenged.

"We are not surprised at their comments. Given South Africa's well-known past, black cricketers have borne the brunt of subtle and overt racist behaviour for many years, including from some colleagues.

"Consequently, there is a need to understand how white privilege feeds into the perpetuation of these old attitudes and assumptions.

"Our attitude, mistakenly, we now believe, has always been to say: 'These are teething problems, and that these will be resolved if we are patient.' But after almost three decades of cricket unity, the views expressed from one side of the racial divide are still very much part of our lives, and we now believe: 'Teething problems cannot be allowed to continue for this long.'

"We see this as an opportunity for CSA to be unequivocal about its position and to make sure the problem is confronted, and we also invite our fellow white cricketers to join in this move to defend human dignity.

"We represent, or have represented, South Africa on merit. Far too many white South Africans cannot accept that black cricketers have proved, time without end, that they are good enough to play at the highest level.

"We want to remind South Africans that as recently as 2017, we were told that a South African sister sport, rugby, was 'dead' - killed by transformation. But guess what? South African rugby won a World Cup last year.

"We cannot recall anyone suggesting that the victory was due to transformation. Why is transformation always rammed down the throats of national teams when they lose, but never when they win? Can there be equal treatment, please?

"All the signatories to the release stated that they have stories to tell about the racism they have had to endure as they strived to get to the top of their sporting careers. Sadly, these have often been at the hands of team-mates.

"It is important to bring these into the open, and for CSA to support black cricketers who come forward to air their stories. Here we also include our women colleagues.

"We live in a beautiful, diverse country, but where the playing fields are still far from level, and the transformation of cricket and people's lives should be of paramount importance.

"We are determined that future generations should not have to experience the pain we have had to endure, and that no South African cricketer should be discriminated against in the future. Racism is a global problem and, as the great Michael Holding explained, we can no longer just keep on laughing, grimacing and moving on.

"We support Lungi Ngidi, we support BLM and, in this week that we remember Nelson Mandela's birthday, we believe that, with honesty and sincerity all-round, lingering racism in cricket and our beautiful country can be tackled once and for all for the sake of every child and every cricketer in South Africa."

Sport24 spoke to former Proteas spinner Adams on Tuesday, who confirmed that all the names included had signed. 

"The world is going through so much at the moment, and this is a collective on what we feel is a very important issue," he said. 

Signed by (Nos 1-30 represented South Africa at international level):

1 Makhaya Ntini, 2 Vernon Philander, 3 Ashwell Prince, 4 Paul Adams, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Charl Langeveldt, 7 Mfuneko Ngam, 8 Robin Peterson, 9 Aaron Phangiso, 10 Justin Ontong, 11 Herschelle Gibbs, 12 Roger Telemachus, 13 Wayne Parnell, 14 Monde Zondeki, 15 Omar Henry, 16 Alfonso Thomas, 17 Victor Mpitsang, 18 Henry Davids, 19 Loots Bosman, 20 Henry Williams, 21 Alviro Petersen, 22 Thandi Tshabalala, 23 Rory Kleinveldt, 24 Thami Tsolekile, 25 Dane Piedt, 26 Garnett Kruger, 27 Shafiek Abrahams, 28 Lonwabo Tsotsobe, 29 Eddie Leie, 30 Imraan Khan, 31 Ethy Mbhalati, 32 Geoffrey Toyana, 33 Wandile Gwavu, 34 Rivash Gobind, 35 Mandla Mashimbyi, 36 Faiek Davids

- Compiled by Lloyd Burnard

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