Mbalula wants an­swers to black play­ers’ ‘pain’ in play­ing for Proteas

Sports min­is­ter agrees with let­ter to Cricket SA on trans­for­ma­tion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - OCKERT DE VILLIERS

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.”

BACKPAGEPIX

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.

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