CSA sets se­lec­tion tar­gets for na­tional teams

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

SOUTH Africa’s na­tional men’s team will need to field a min­i­mum av­er­age of six play­ers of colour, of which at least two must be black African, in their XI ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, in or­der to meet their trans­for­ma­tion tar­gets.

The in­struc­tion was con­firmed by Cricket South Africa’s board at their AGM on Satur­day and fol­lows con­fir­ma­tion in July that all na­tional teams will be obliged to meet tar­gets as part of what CSA has termed a drive to trans­form “ag­gres­sively,” and “make cricket a truly na­tional sport ac­ces­si­ble to all”.

The tar­gets will not be im­posed on the XI in ev­ery match they play but cal­cu­lated on an av­er­age ba­sis over the sea­son. That means that South Africa’s se­lec­tors will not be strictly bound to that com­bi­na­tion all the time, but if there are some matches where they do not meet the tar­gets, they will have to com­pen­sate in other games.

Although the em­pha­sis and tim­ing of CSA’s trans­for­ma­tion ef­forts ap­pear to be a re­sponse to be­ing banned from bid­ding for or host­ing ma­jor tour­na­ments by the coun­try’s sports min­istry as pun­ish­ment for the slow progress of change, CSA has de­nied that is the case even though there is talk of a World T20 be­ing held in South Africa in 2018.

“That would be an un­for­tu­nate anal­y­sis of the sit­u­a­tion but the co­in­ci­dence can­not be avoided,” CSA pres­i­dent Chris Nen­zani said. “We are not driv­ing trans­for­ma­tion in or­der to host an event. That event is go­ing to come and go, as many events be­fore it. We are driv­ing trans­for­ma­tion be­cause we be­lieve it is the right thing to do. We have to talk about trans­for­ma­tion, whether or not there is 2018.”

Nen­zani harked back to when CSA hosted its first trans­for­ma­tion con­fer­ence in more than a decade in 2013 as be­ing the start­ing point for this wave of pol­i­cy­mak­ing. The ma­jor out­come of that meet­ing was that in­creased the do­mes­tic tar­get to five play­ers of colour at fran­chise level and six at the semi-pro­fes­sional pro­vin­cial level. In 2015, the board again in­creased the num­bers to what they are to­day. Cur­rently, all fran­chise and pro­vin­cial teams must field six play­ers of colour, of which at least three must be black African.

“All along we main­tained a view that we would not want to set tar­gets for the na­tional team premised on the fact that if your sys­tem be­gins to work it should nat­u­rally as­sist you in terms of play­ers com­ing through to the na­tional set up. That was the hope that we had, that nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion would en­sure play­ers were get­ting in, black play­ers in gen­eral, black African play­ers in par­tic­u­lar,” Nen­zani said.

How­ever, CSA has since ad­mit­ted it is not see­ing play­ers come through quickly enough and has de­cided to im­ple­ment a tar­get at the high­est level as well. “The very fact that there is a need to set cer­tain tar­gets in­di­cates that the sys­tem has not been work­ing op­ti­mally to achieve rep­re­sen­tiv­ity,” Nen­zani said. “The idea of set­ting tar­gets in the na­tional teams is to say the sys­tem has not as­sisted us in pro­duc­ing. We are set­ting tar­gets forc­ing the sys­tem to work to­wards the tar­gets.”

There is a de­gree of le­niency in the new num­bers be­cause they will not ap­ply on a match-by-match ba­sis but will be as­sessed over a pe­riod of time. “We are say­ing let’s look at this tar­get over a sea­son which al­lows the coach­ing staff and team man­age­ment to have flex­i­bil­ity,” Nen­zani said. “If there are rea­sons that the coach says, ‘In this match, be­cause of a num­ber of rea­sons and con­di­tions, I am not go­ing to be in a po­si­tion to play black play­ers,’ or even that ‘I am go­ing to go into this match with­out a sin­gle black African player,’ that flex­i­bil­ity is al­lowed but it should be based on ob­jec­tive re­al­ity. If I were to be put in the same sit­u­a­tion, I should see the same re­al­ity.”

An ob­vi­ous con­cern is that South Africa will load their XIs with play­ers of colour who do not have clearly-de­fined roles, or that they will only pick play­ers of colour for fix­tures with lit­tle sig­nif­i­cance. “It has hap­pened al­ready where you have play­ers se­lected as go­ing to play and then they don’t bowl and they don’t bat. We are hop­ing that the peo­ple who have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to im­ple­ment these de­ci­sions are go­ing to go a step fur­ther and show com­mit­ment,” he said.

“As a board we have taken a de­ci­sion to say we are go­ing to make sure these de­ci­sions are im­ple­mented and we are go­ing to as­sess and eval­u­ate the im­ple­men­ta­tion process. We are go­ing to in­tro­duce what we call con­se­quence man­age­ment. If you fail to act in a man­ner that ad­vances the ef­fi­cacy of the sys­tem, you need to ac­count for that.”

By and large, South Africa are al­ready meet­ing these tar­gets. In the two Tests against New Zealand, they fielded that ex­act com­bi­na­tion although they did not have ei­ther AB de Vil­liers or Morne Morkel (both white) be­cause of in­juries. In the ODI se­ries in the Caribbean in June, South Africa fielded no less than six play­ers of colour in ev­ery XI, although their black African com­po­nent var­ied be­tween one and two. In their sec­ond match they made his­tory when they fielded eight play­ers of colour.

“What is re­ally en­cour­ag­ing is that the Proteas, who are our flag bear­ers, are al­ready achiev­ing these tar­gets and in some cases ex­ceed­ing the tar­gets we have just set. The Test start­ing XI that played in the re­cent se­ries against New Zealand con­tained six play­ers of colour and two Black Africans and the ODI start­ing XI had as many as eight play­ers of colour (73%) in their most re­cent se­ries against the West Indies and Aus­tralia,” Nen­zani said. “The South Africa A side had six play­ers of colour and three Black Africans in the start­ing XI that beat the Aus­tralia Na­tional Per­for­mance Squad by nine wick­ets in the fi­nal match of their quad­ran­gu­lar se­ries in Aus­tralia to­day.”

Many ques­tions still re­main unan­swered, such as whether South Africa fears a tal­ent ex­o­dus as white play­ers es­cape lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties. For now, the fo­cus is on mak­ing more use of the play­ers they have by in­clud­ing all South Africans, es­pe­cially those pre­vi­ously marginalised, in the sport.

“This is a na­tional im­per­a­tive, it is a con­sti­tu­tional im­per­a­tive. It is im­por­tant for trans­for­ma­tion to suc­ceed,” Nen­zani said. — ESPNCricinfo

CSA pres­i­dent Chris Nen­zani

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