A pleasing sight for the World

Nothing has been more encouraging in cricket in recent weeks than the sight of Ashwell Prince and Imraan Khan opening the innings for South Africa.
It’s not so long ago that they had no right to choose their government, live where they liked, marry their sweethearts or play cricket for their country. They were second class citizens at the beck and call of the white
Now they were able to strap on their pads after the Australians had been dismissed for a paltry total and walk out together to face the
fury of the visitor’s new ball attack.
Indeed they were so eager to get underway that they strode to the centre several minutes before the fieldsmen and stood surveying the scene till Ricky Ponting led his men out

This is how Peter Roebuck described the sight of 2 non-white openers going out to bat for South Africa in the Second Cricket Test against Australia.

I was not fortunate enough to witness this historic event on TV. But I could very well understand the importance of the event.

It was in 1970 that ICC[International Cricket Council] suspended Cricket ties with South Africa after tremendous pressure from India,West Indies and anti-apartheid movement. [African Nations and Asian Nations under the leadership of India threatened to boycott the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh to be held in July 1970.]

ICC voted to suspend South Africa from international cricket indefinitely because of its government’s policy of apartheid, an overtly racist policy, which led them to play only against the white nations (England, Australia, New Zealand), and field only white players. This decision excluded outstanding players such as Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards and Mike Procter from partaking in international Test Cricket. It would also cause the emigration of future stars like Allan Lamb and Robin Smith, who both played for England, and Kepler Wessels, who initially played for Australia, before returning to South Africa.

The apartheid system – which saw South Africa ousted from the British Commonwealth in 1961, excluded from sporting events and subjected to trade sanctions in the 1970s and 1980s – started to come apart in 1985.
That year, non-whites won limited constitutional rights and interracial marriage was permitted.
President P W Botha resigned in 1989 and his successor FW de Klerk repealed all apartheid laws by 1991 but only whites could vote and segregation continued. ICC allowed the re-entry of South Africa in to its fold in 1991.
A new constitution enfranchised all South Africans in 1993 and Nelson Mandela became the country’s first black president in 1994.

Since then South African Cricket was largely dominated by Whites even though a controversial quota system was present to include more non-white players. Now the non white players seems to assert themselves as they shed the burden of Apartheid. Imraan Khan played only because Graeme Smith was injured but with Ashwell Prince,Hashim Amla and Makhaya Ntini playing well the need for quota system will soon disappear in South African Cricket.
Four of South Africa’s top six batsmen in the current Test match have brown skins. Had Lonwabo Tsotsobe, the tall left-armer glimpsed in Australia, not been recovering from knee surgery, the majority of the team would have come from previously repressed communities. In the 1990s, South African teams led by Kepler Wessels and Hansie Cronje often did not include a single non-white player.
Although the job is by no means complete, owing to wide discrepancies in facilities, it is a remarkable achievement. And it has been effected without a bloody revolution. The rise of the current crop confirms that the game is rising in all groupings — only the Anglo-Saxons have fallen back, largely because many have moved to England or Perth. It will take more than a few bombs in Mumbai and Lahore to defeat cricket’s cosmopolitan ideal.
The election of Barack Obama as the U.S President and the sight of the new non-white opening pair of South African Cricket makes us believe that the struggle against racism lead by among others,Mahatma Gandhi,Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela is nearing its final victory.

2 thoughts on “A pleasing sight for the World

  1. Yea it was interesting… and Peter Roebuck is one of teh most fantastic writers on cricket.. he almost creates an ampitheatre… it seems cricket is not just a sport when he writes … doesnt he ??? its something much more right ???hes my favourite…Bout the quota system… i still would prefer that there would be no quota… that the selection be on merit… rite now they have enough coloured players who can claim a spot… but earlier they had to carry lesser talented coloured players at the expensive or some talented players… no quota’s must be there… quota’s should be only for talented players !! but than the world is not an ideal place is it ?

  2. Roebuk is very good, my favorite too. There were many good writers on Cricket before, but now the quality is poor. In a way quota system might have helped in encouraging more colored kids to take up Cricket. May be now it has become irrelevant

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