Pol­lock’s pol­i­tics, un­like his bat­ting, be­long in the past

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MARK KEO­HANE

GRAEME POL­LOCK was a crick­et­ing un­touch­able, but his be­lief that South Africa will never again be a cricket force be­cause of trans­for­ma­tion is as ill-formed as it is in­her­ently racist. The com­ments, like Pol­lock’s bat­ting, can’t be ig­nored.

Pol­lock the bats­man was class; Pol­lock the spokesper­son for old South Africa is sim­ply crass.

Pol­lock, in the af­ter­math of the Proteas Test de­feat against Eng­land at Lord’s, was quoted in the me­dia as say­ing that po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence and quo­tas meant South Africans would have to ac­cept that the Proteas would be a “mid­dle of the road” Test side be­cause racial trans­for­ma­tion was the key com­po­nent of se­lec­tion.

Pol­lock even pinned open­ing bats­man Heino Kuhn’s Test fail­ures on trans­for­ma­tion, say­ing that Kuhn was only picked be­cause of his first-class suc­cess in a SA com­pe­ti­tion struc­ture that ap­par­ently is weak be­cause of trans­for­ma­tion. Ap­par­ently it’s never the white guy’s fault and Kuhn’s fail­ures are ex­cused be­cause in­fe­rior black bowlers sup­pos­edly cre­ated the il­lu­sion that he could bat.

Pol­lock didn’t seem as con­cerned about the state of the Proteas when the team beat Aus­tralia 5-0 in a ODI se­ries in SA. There were just three white play­ers in the play­ing 11, which – if you do the maths – means there were eight play­ers who weren’t white.

Kuhn was out of his depth at Lord’s and has looked equally limp at Trent Bridge. Ditto Duane Olivier at Trent Bridge. Where is trans­for­ma­tion the is­sue?

Why can a white player fail and it never gets men­tioned, but when the team fails it is al­ways down to trans­for­ma­tion? When the team wins you never hear a peep from the likes of Pol­lock or any of the SA white sport­ing gi­ants who played in an apartheid era that pro­moted the virtues of only white play­ers.

Pol­lock’s com­ments re­in­forced the SA sport­ing be­lief of the apartheid era that white is right.

It took one Test de­feat for Pol­lock to blame trans­for­ma­tion, but when the team was win­ning se­ries af­ter se­ries in ev­ery for­mat of the game there was no ap­plause in the me­dia from the likes of Pol­lock. Pol­lock told a gath­er­ing in Lon­don that the 11 best play­ers were never se­lected for the Proteas.

He is right: Kuhn and Olivier should not have played in the sec­ond Test. He is wrong when he says it is be­cause of trans­for­ma­tion.

I’ve heard sim­i­lar ar­gu­ments year af­ter year when it comes to the rugby fail­ures of the Spring­boks. Trans­for­ma­tion is blamed for ev­ery Bok fail­ure, but when the team wins trans­for­ma­tion is never men­tioned.

Trans­for­ma­tion was blamed for the Spring­boks’ 2015 Rugby World Cup de­feat against Ja­pan, but the player who missed the tackle for Ja­pan’s match-win­ning try was Jesse Kriel.

There was never an is­sue made that 12 white play­ers in the start­ing 15 was the rea­son the Boks lost. Nope, what we got was the pre­dictable and cliche so­cial me­dia rant that pol­i­tics was killing the Spring­boks.

Pol­lock and all those who be­lieve trans­for­ma­tion is the death of SA sport should be given a sta­tis­ti­cal his­tory les­son of the Proteas and Boks re­sults over the last 100 years.

SA lost plenty, and in em­bar­rass­ing and hu­mil­i­at­ing fash­ion with a whites-only se­lec­tion pol­icy.

Pol­lock’s pol­i­tics, un­like his bat­ting, be­longs in the past. His com­ments were a greater em­bar­rass­ment than any na­tional team de­feat.

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