South Africa cricketers still haunted by the racial bias that exists in society, with the SJN meetings the proof of the existing divide even after the end of Kolpak.
South Africa cricket is going through one of its worst patches, with the situation not improving anytime soon. At the 2019 World Cup, the Proteas failed to qualify for the knock-out stage, with their seventh-place finish only bettering Bangladesh, the West Indies and Afghanistan.
Cut to 2021, the T20 World Cup saw quite a lift for the side. They won four out of their stipulated five matches in the group stage. Butm they failed to advance due to their net run rate. However, it was soon followed by India breaching Centurion in the first Test. The threat of India sealing their first-ever Test series victory in South Africa, with Johannesburg as the visitors’ fortress, is looking real
What makes the case worse for South Africa cricket is Quinton de Kock quitting Tests to spend more time with his family. His decision to quit prioritizing his family, meanwhile, opens up a number of arguments.
When the IPL came about, the Club vs Country debate gained plenty of voice. The debate reached its peak in England. Choosing club over country is an individual decision. But, South African cricketers might be haunted by plenty more reasons. A historical baggage of racial tensions affected them during Apartheid. In the aftermath of the end of Apartheid, racial bias has existed. This has affected the current and upcoming generation of cricketers. It has been a double whammy, thanks to Kolpak and Racism.
The dreaded ‘K’ word haunted South Africa cricket for decades. But, when Britain exited Europe and Kolpak was gone, the racial divides came out in the SJN meetings. Every day, the Social Justice and Nation Building meetings have exposed the deep rot of racial bias in the country.
Back in the early 2000s, South Africa lost one of their greatest prospects, in Kevin Pietersen due to racial policies. The former England all-rounder chose to forego his career for the native nation after he was left out from the Natal side. He felt that the decision was unjust towards him and players should be treated equally. Racism has been two-sided. In 2015, during the ICC World Cup semifinal against New Zealand, Kyle Abbott was left out of the team because they had to fulfill a quota. Vernon Philander, half-fit came into the team. South Africa will forever deny that the change was quota-motivated. But, it was the start of an ugly period.
The most famous case is Kevin Pietersen who switched from South Africa to England. Pietersen’s move exposedas Cricket South Africa’s policy of racial quotas in cricket. This has been done to increase the number of black players.
It might be a positive move for South Africa, which has seen black players prohibited from representing their national team for more than 50 years under Apartheid. But, judging a player on basis of their merit will remain in question. It might also see the South African cricket slump to a new low with a middle-ground seemingly still to be achieved.