Two gems in one of Telford Vice’s Sunday columns ago got me thinking: the first being that if you’re a cricketer, black, experienced or over 20, deem yourself in the peripheral ranks of selective consideration. The second being, that cricketers in this periphery of selection are exiled to a sense of ‘keep calm and find another career’ in the meantime.
What’s the basis?
The ‘black tax’ adage that black Africans have to work twice as hard as their Caucasian, Indian, and mixed-raced African counterparts is not false. The idea that an alternative race could serve a black African cricketer any better in the new democratic South Africa is awkward to think about and more than an issue of color composition. I am beginning to feel that the plaintiff petition around the overdue selection of black cricketers is fair but fairly misplaced and that it constitutes a fallacy insofar as the attention we pay to the production-line of black African cricketing talent in South Africa.
It would be accurate to state that all those up for selective consideration are (more often than not) products of the junior, schools and senior cricket systems in South Africa. In other words, South Africa surely has black cricketers performing consistently at its myriad of amateur levels, whom – as with all cricketers performing consistently at the myriad of amateur levels – need to be given the old college try. They don’t usually get those opportunities though.
Because we are not millions of Andrew Hudson’s, I want to move away from the opportunities for black Africans at national level where I have observed the most recent hoopla to be centred. Frankly, South Africa’s cricket system trips over itself where the development of black African players is concerned and I am not talking about the eager-eyed attendees registered in droves for Mini-Cricket Festivals, I am talking about everyone in between and then some: those 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 year olds progressively overlooked and snubbed more often than the Sunday Times can publish a headline. It’s like a clog in a system – the kind like a hair ball in a drain and the subsequent chain of events.
Keep calm – it is what it is
So why do we stand at point with our hands over our heads as if we dropped a good catch when black cricketers are given less time to prove themselves as national warriors than they are as national human shields? Ironically, ‘keep calm and find another career’ is the resounding sentiment across provincial cricket associations where the black masses of ex-cricketers, stifled-cricketers, and untapped talent is capitalised on by an administrative bourgeoisie. Everyone in between and then some are found foot soldiering the development of cricket from grassroots level, usually in the regions of “area” cricket.
There is nothing wrong with that, in fact, it is wonderful that one career (underdeveloped) can flow so easily into another (that develops). But there is something upside-down about it, that gets me back to that clog in the circuit. And the maladies of developing black African cricket in the country. End, Part 1.