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regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

Nothing new, just a shame: AB de Villiers laments South Africa's racial quota controversy

The cause of outrage is the presence of just one black player in the squad for the T20 showpiece that will take place in the West Indies and the United States from June 1

Our Bureau And PTI New Delhi Published 30.05.24, 11:12 AM
Kagiso Rabada.

Kagiso Rabada. PTI

AB de Villiers is not surprised that just days before South Africa renew their quest for an elusive World Cup crown going into next month’s T20 Cup, the talk back home is all about racial quota in the team.

It’s a rinse-and-repeat sort of situation, and De Villiers, who retired in 2018, is glad that he is a mere spectator to the situation now. “It’s a shame going into a tournament to have the focus on that. It’s nothing new, it’s just a shame,” lamented one of the greats of South African cricket.

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“Luckily, this time around, I’ve had nothing to do with anything over there. I’m just a spectator,” the 40-year-old said.

The cause of outrage is the presence of just one black player in the squad for the T20 showpiece that will take place in the West Indies and the United States from June 1.

Such a situation is a far-from-ideal build-up for South Africa as the country has had a troubled past when it comes to race relations. The Proteas will start off their T20 Cup campaign against the Netherlands in New York on June 8.

Over the course of a season, six players of colour are required to be in the South Africa playing XI, including two from the black African community as per the policy introduced in 2016. With Kagiso Rabada being the only black African in the T20 Cup squad, the national team is set to miss its target. Another black-African, Lungi Ngidi, is a part of the travelling reserves.

The other players of colour are Reeza Hendricks, Bjorn Fortuin, Keshav Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi and Ottniel Baartman.

“There are controversial moments back home as usual with the South African squad just before a World Cup,” De Villiers said. “It’s a shame about Lungi. He lost a bit of form, had a couple of injuries. Otherwise, he most probably would have been in the squad and there wouldn’t be any controversial stuff back home,” the former South Africa captain added.

At present, Cricket South Africa doesn’t have a committee of selectors and the team is picked by head coaches Conrad Shukri (Tests) and Rob Walter (limited-overs cricket).

“Sometimes these things happen and it puts you under a bit of pressure as a selection panel and as a coach and a captain,” De Villiers said.

“From what I remember is with the quota system, it’s an average team, an average number over the season and they don’t really look at every series.”

Following the selection of the squad earlier this month, South Africa’s former sports minister Fikile Mbalula and former CSA and ex-president of ICC Ray Mali had questioned the composition of the side. But De Villiers was a bit more empathetic towards those who made the choices and said he does not see anything sinister in the process.

“Maybe they are short. Maybe they are well within their rights to do whatever they were needed to do for this World Cup. You need to keep in mind there were a couple of injuries, while a couple of players were out of form as well. It’s never easy,” he said.

Written with PTI inputs

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