South Africa has been competitive cricketing nation since readmission in 1992. The side has generally produced world-class players over the last two decades. Former South African Skipper Kepler Wessels was instrumental in shaping the side into a well-drilled unit who did not give up at the last moment. South Africa has achieved some milestones in the last 20 years from winning in India in 2000 to producing consecutive Test victories in England and Australia. But the current state of affairs in the game and prevalent environment in South Africa, things can go worse as Transformation policy has started to produce its adverse effects.
The cricketing nation has picked players on merit that has yielded cricket results for the side in general for the last decade. But there have been controversial moments in between with Justin Ontong playing ahead of Jacques Rudolph in the third and final Test against Australia at Sydney in 2002. The episode left a bad taste as Percy Sonn was the chief culprit in the whole saga. Surely, Jacques Rudolph was the best form at that time and should have been selected for the game.
There have been various instances like the one most recently being Kyle Abbott’s exclusion from the semifinal game against New Zealand in the semifinal of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Kyle Abbott was visibly the best bowler on the show for South Africa and was instrumental in breaking their knockout jinx against Sri Lanka in the previous game. But administrator got it horribly wrong, Vernon Philander who did not feature regularly in the lineup was picked ahead of Abbott for a crucial semifinal game and that result was another defeat for South Africa.
South Africa new transformation is an initiative to bring in more colored players in the game of cricket as they hold a majority stake in the country. But selecting a cricket team must not be on the racial lines as it would delineate standards in the game. South Africa’s domestic circuit is in deplorable state as only veterans like Stephen Cook and Heino Kuhn have been piling on runs in the last few seasons. The inclusion of colored players in the starting XI meant that side has suffered a loss of talent with player like Rilee Rossouw, Kyle Abbott, Colin Ingram and Merchant De Lange opting to apply their trade in England by signing Kolpak agreements.
The ones in the side such Temba Bavuma and JP Duminy have not set the world alight as just average above 30. South Africa one had players of great quality like Ashwell Prince and Daryll Cullinan who used to average above 40 runs in Test cricket. The exit of top players like Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn from the game in the future will see South Africa slump to further misery as no there adequate replacements for all the above mentioned.
The recent thrashing of South Africa-A sides by India, England and Australia is clear sign that transformation is clearly not working. If Administrators continue to pursue this policy, the game of cricket will witness a strong cricketing nation like South Africa become another Zimbabwe.
Cricket South Africa must deeply introspect this matter and must opt for picking sides on merit rather on race or color.