According to an Australian newspaper, the South African cricket team was forced to include an injured Coloured (mixed-race) player in their line-up for the Cricket World Cup in order to adhere to the government’s racial quotas for sports. This may have cost the country, one of the world’s foremost cricketing and rugby nations, the championship as it lost in the semi-final against New Zealand which is less highly rated.
The injured Vernon Philander (see picture) was selected and star bowler Kyle Abbott ousted on account of belonging to the white race. For the semi-final played last Tuesday, the South African minister of sport, Fikile Mbalula, ordered that “at least four players of colour” had to be included in the team.
According to reports, captain AB de Villiers was highly upset about the political and racial interference in the selection process. A source close to him said:
“AB didn‘t want to play in the semi because of this; it is a clear case of interference by the board — they ordered Philander‘s selection.”
“It was a purely political decision. The players are fuming about it but they won‘t say so.”
De Villiers declined to comment publicly.
Tony Irish, chief executive of the SA Cricketers‘ Association, merely said:
“I will be talking to the players [today] when they get back [from Australasia].”
The ANC sports minister is unrepentant, however. He has threatened national sports bodies with deregistration if they do not axe more white players from both rugby and cricket.
“We will …withdraw national colours; we will ensure that we deregister those that are intransigent,” Mbalula threatened.