Mbalula wants answers to black players’ ‘pain’ in playing for Proteas
Sports minister agrees with letter to Cricket SA on transformation
A GROUP of black cricketers followed the right steps by approaching Cricket South Africa about their concerns about team selections in the Proteas team, sports minister Fikile Mbalula said yesterday.
The players, calling themselves Black Cricketers in Unity, sent a letter to CSA on Monday wherein they raised their concern about being selected for the Proteas squad but get little game time.
“We must appreciate the fact that black players are able to stand up for the pain they feel and state that case in an organised way and engage Cricket South Africa,” Mbalula said at the launch of the inaugural National Sports Week in Centurion yesterday.
“I’m fully in agreement with the approach of the players rather than beating around the bush and not raising their issues.
“They are doing it quite appropriately and they are taking it where it belongs, and CSA must answer to the pain an African child feels in playing for the national team.”
The group have requested a debate on transformation and has given CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat a week to respond.
In his response in a statement Lorgat said: “It is disappointing when a letter of this nature finds its way into the media because we do not solve such issues in the media.
“Matters of this nature need to be dealt with responsibly by all the affected parties before a full and accurate report can be presented to the public.”
Mbalula said it was a positive sign that CSA was willing to meet with the players and address the issue head on.
“I am happy that Cricket South Africa have agreed to meet with the players so that they can address the concerns the players have raised,” he said.
“It raises the fundamental question in relation to transformation and what needs to happen, the complaints have been there that the players get selected but are not given enough time to play.”
The minister said it was important that the players did not get not get victimised for speaking out and called for CSA to address the concerns they had raised in the letter.
“They are saying fine and good we are being selected but we are not given enough game time,” Mbalula said.
“It is important that those things must be addressed, if you are living in South Africa you will know what these players are talking about.
“I will be very worried if Cricket South Africa turns a blind eye. My door is open should that happen because I think those concerns are fundamental.”
The minister mentioned that cricket in the country has made massive strides in terms of transformation as black player representation has increased in recent times.
“We have never had so many black players in the national team, the issue that sometimes distort the view of the national team is that it is mostly domi- nated by generic black and Africans in particular are not there in their numbers,” he said.
“Nobody says cricket has not improved, you’ve got top batsmen in the starting line-up, Hashim Amla and JP Duminy, and we need to equally focus on the development of African players.”
TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’: The likes of Kagiso Rabada and Aaron Phangiso have regularly been selected for senior national squads, but the question of how much game time they receive is the big issue.