Proteas legends celebrate 25 years

AB de Villiers (Gallo Images)
AB de Villiers (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Cricket South Africa (CSA) celebrated 25 years of history with an anniversary gala dinner on Monday night with cricketers past and present celebrating the milestone at the Sandton Convention Centre.
A theatrical production told the story of CSA since its re-admission into international cricket.
There were keynote address from CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat, CSA president Chris Nenzani, Vincent Barnes, the manager at the CSA High Performance Centre, and Proteas Test and ODI captain AB de Villiers.
Apart from former players such as Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, Jonty Rhodes, Andrew Hudson, Makhaya Ntini and Fanie de Villiers, to name a few,  the “Big Reunion” was also graced by several former coaches, managers, administrators, commercial partners and media.
Tributes were also paid to those who have passed on over the years, including South Africa’s first captain post-isolation, Clive Rice, and former presidents, Krish Mackerdhuj and Percy Sonn.
Looking back on the event, former Proteas batsman and current batting coach Neil McKenzie said: “It was an unbelievable night and was really good to see a lot of the old guys who have been there and represented the Proteas over the last 25 years. It was a really good initiative and nice to see Cricket South Africa putting together such an event.”
Current Proteas Twenty20 international captain Faf du Plessis felt honoured to be in the same room as other South African legends.
“It was really nice for us the current Proteas because it was the first time we could be in the same room with all those players together,” he said. “Obviously it’s 25 years for unified South African cricket now and we’re very proud of everything that has been achieved.
“We as the Proteas try to live that every day and show the rest of the world how strong it makes us as a country… all the different backgrounds, all the different ethnicities, so we’re almost a beacon of hope for everyone.”
Another current Proteas star, Hashim Amla, added: “I think the function was a great reminder for everybody, the way it was presented was really inspiring and I think everyone in the audience really appreciated and enjoyed how the timeline of South African cricket was depicted. It was a great reminder and humbling to be reminded about the great cricketers who have played for this country.”
Former fast bowler and current national bowling coach Charl Langeveldt was happy to learn more about how South Africa was re-introduced into the international fold post-apartheid.
“We’ve come a long way and we’ve changed a lot in the culture, which is important for Cricket South Africa because we’re such a diverse nation and I think it was great to have looked back on the past 25 years the way we did with this event,” he said. “It was nice to see the older guys with the younger guys and see where we came from 25 years ago.
“It’s also nice to learn about what happened behind the scenes and to see who were the pioneers when it all started. They need to get the recognition as well because it was a job well done.  If you look at where we are now, just the other day we beat Australia with eight players of colour, so we’ve come a long way when you talk about diversity. At the end, I think we’re achieving what we want to.”  
The Silver Jubilee celebration dinner was one of the key events planned as part of the 25-year anniversary Year.
The 2016 CSA awards banquet takes place at the same venue on Tuesday night.
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