The chief executive of Cricket SA (CSA) openly admits that the issue of transformation in cricket in the country needs to be urgently addressed.
“At the outset let me say that both the board and myself are not satisfied with the current pace of transformation, specifically with reference to the development of black African talent,” says Lorgat.
Since its readmission to world cricket in 1991, only seven black African players have represented the Proteas in One Day Internationals, while only five have played in Test matches.
There has been much debate around the lack of black African players in the national cricket side. Since South Africa’s return to the international fold, only one player of African origin has been a regular in the Test side, Makhaya Ntini.
Only four other black African South Africans have played Test cricket. These include Thami Tsolekile, Mfuneko Ngam, Monde Zondeki and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Victor Mpitsang, Loots Bosman, Thandi Tshabalala, and Aaron Phangiso have also all played for South Africa in limited-overs cricket.
Ntini served the national side with distinction, playing over 100 Tests and taking nearly 400 wickets.
He also has the best match figures by any South African in a Test and is the only South African to take 10 wickets in a Test match at Lords.
However, apart from Ntini, those of African descent have been a rarity in the national side.
The issue of transformation resurfaced last month following the Proteas’ exit from the World Cup in Australia.
Former CSA boss Dr Mtutuzeli Nyoka is one of many South Africans who spoke out about the shortage of black African cricketers in the World Cup squad.
Highveld Lions bowler Aaron Phangiso was the only black African player to be chosen for the World Cup squad but did not play a single game in Australia.
Nyoka was quoted as saying: “Phangiso is the only player who didn’t make an appearance in the tournament, the only player. This to me was an insult, not only to me, but to many other Africans.
“Imagine how that player feels? He only participated in the net. That must have crushed his spirit. It certainly crushed ours. The non-selection of Phangiso was an insult to millions of Africans.”
Although Lorgat says the board is not pleased about the lack of black African players in the national squad, he fully backed the squad selection for the World Cup and the decision to leave Phangiso on the bench.
“The squad selected was well received by the nation and only by the narrowest of margins did they not make the final.
“With regard to Phangiso, merit has always been and will always be the only yardstick by which our national teams are selected.
“Phangiso was the back-up spinner to Imran Tahir and the team’s strategy, like most of the other teams, was to play only one spinner.
“Tahir, who is the No 2 ranked bowler on the ICC ODI rankings, is our first choice spinner. Had the tournament been hosted on the sub-continent, the make-up of the team could have been different with both spinners likely to be in the starting eleven.”
Lorgat says it’s well known that the cricket board have been working hard to address transformation in cricket, having introduced increased quotas for the 2015-16 season.
A few weeks ago, the CSA board approved a new quota that required franchises to field at least six players of colour, of which three must be black Africans across all competitions.
“We have stepped up our efforts to build talent from the bottom up and have set targets in our franchise and semi-professional competitions,” says Lorgat.
“In pursuit of our stated goal to be aggressive in this regard, we have increased our targets for the 2015-16 season as announced recently.
Lorgat added that it was quite clear that transformation needed to be driven at domestic and youth level.
“Already, the plans and policies that were put in place at our Indaba and Cricket Services Department are starting to take effect.
“I have been encouraged by the number of black African players chosen at under-19 level (we became world champions for the first time) and at SA ‘A’ level where we recently produced excellent results against Australia ‘A’ and against England ‘A’.”
“If one looks at players like Rabada, Leie, Zondo, Bavuma and Shezi coming through the system plus established Proteas such as Phangiso and Tsotsobe, I feel confident that we are at the cusp of unlocking a reservoir of talent.”
Lorgat admitted there was very little progress with regards to transformation in cricket in the early years of unity.
However, the plans set up are slowly starting to take effect.
“There was hardly any progress in the early years of unity although transformation was always a priority.”
“Our current policy was put in place in 1999 when we launched the transformation charter at the Newlands Test match against the West Indies and more practical steps were agreed at our Transformation Indaba in 2013.”
Reasons to be positive about transformation, according to Lorgat:
* Highveld Lions clinched the Sunfoil Series with a round to spare and have regularly fielded four black African players. All were selected on merit.
* The second-placed, The Unlimited Titans, have fielded three black African players.
* The third-placed Sunfoil Dolphins have fielded five black African players at various stages of the same competition.
* South Africa “A” fielded three black African players in the Test series against the England Lions and four in the one-day series (a total of five players across the two formats).
* South Africa won the U/19 World Cup last year with a squad that included four black African players and the same applies to this year’s squad, including the captain and coach, as they prepare to defend the title early next year.
* There are four black African players in the latest SA Schools team, three in the SA Colts and four in the SA U/17 squads.
l Border, who always field a majority of black African players, have won the CSA one-day Affiliates’ competition for the second time in three seasons.
Blacks who represented Proteas in One Day Internationals since readmission:
Played from 1998-2011
Matches played: 143
Wickets taken: 230
Played from 1999
Matches played: 2
Wickets taken: 2
Played from 2002
Matches played: 9
Wickets taken: 8
Played from 2006-7
Matches played: 8
Runs scored: 202
Played from 2007
Matches played: 4
Wickets taken: 3
Played from 2009
Matches played: 61
Wickets taken: 94
Played from 2013
Matches played: 5
Wickets taken: 4
Played from 1998-2006
Matches played: 101
Wickets taken: 390
Played from: 2000-1
Matches played: 3
Wickets taken: 11
Played from: 2003-5
Matches played: 5
Wickets taken: 16
Played from 2004
Matches played: 3
Runs scored: 47
Played from 2010
Matches played: 5
Wickets taken: 9
Blacks who made the cut
Thami Tsolekile - Pretoria NewsHaroon Lorgat is frank when asked about the shortage of black African players in the national cricket squad.
Original source: Cricket transformation ‘must be seen to’