Cricket great Graeme Pollock fears for the future of the game in South Africa following the implementation of the racial transformation as a key component of selection. He reckoned the Proteas would be reduced to being a middle-standard side if the politics and meddling into the running of the team continues.
“The major thing is the problem with the politics and interference with the selection of players,” Pollock said at a meeting of cricket enthusiasts in London. “It’s affecting the performance of the side — they don’t put the 11 best players on the field. It’s never going to change. As South Africans, we’ve got to accept that South Africa are going to be middle of the road in their future Test cricket,” he added in an interview to AFP.
Transformation is designed to cope with the legacy of apartheid, where for the most part only white players such as Pollock, one of the greatest batsmen in cricket history, were allowed to play for South Africa. He believes that players of his generation could have done more to even the scale but things did get right under the captaincy of Graeme Smith.
As per the current rule implemented in August, Cricket South Africa has defined the transformation policy as one where national teams should
include on average and across all formats, six players of colour, of which two must be black African. Things get tougher at the domestic level where six players of colour per side per match, of which three must be black African is a strict rule.
Pollock said it was at domestic level where the effects were most noticeable with the rise and selection of opener Heino Kuhn as a case in point. “You are going to pick a guy like Heino Kuhn, the opening batsman, who got a couple of hundreds in first-class cricket. He’s not good enough to play Test cricket. The guys are playing in a bad standard of first-class cricket in South Africa because of the politics and interference in selection,” the 73-year-old left-hander added. Kuhn scored just one and nine in the opening Test against England at Lord’s which South Africa lost by 211 runs. The second Test begins at Trent Bridge on Friday.
However that sentiment wasn’t shared by Faf du Plessis who returned to lead the side for the second Test against England. “Within the team it has never been a challenge, we understand what to do and what to expect and what is best for our country — we’ve been getting on with it,” said du Plessis.
Pollock meanwhile conceded that not enough was done to counter the apartheid movement which also saw South Africa exiled from official international cricket for over two decades. “I thought it would be sorted out before 22 years had passed. We had a walk off in 1971 and we were told ‘stick to cricket’. We genuinely wanted to try to do something. But overall…we didn’t do enough. Absolutely, definitely,” he said of the brief walk-off protest during a Rest of South Africa vs Transvaal match in 1971.