Systemic racism in cricket must end

Makhaya Ntini says he would watch friends 'making plans right in front of me and I would not be invited'.
Makhaya Ntini says he would watch friends 'making plans right in front of me and I would not be invited'.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

There has been an interesting discourse in SA over the last two weeks about the Black Lives Matter movement and its place in sport.

By now we all know that Proteas fast bowler Lungi Ngidi got the ball rolling when he challenged Cricket SA to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

He was criticised by some former Proteas, Pat Symcox and Boeta Dippenaar in particular, but there has been an overwhelming support from the public on his views.

It opened up a very important, and long overdue, conversation about systemic racism within SA cricket. No doubt, this is not exclusive to cricket, but other sporting codes too.

Today, this newspaper tells the lived experiences of some professional cricketers from the Eastern Cape.

The prevailing theme is the fact that black people have found themselves continuously fighting against a system skewed towards the more privileged.

We cannot move away from the history of our country which afforded — and still continues to afford — white players more opportunities by virtue of the colour of their skin.

Among those who have spoken out are former SA cricketer Makhaya Ntini, the first black player to play for the national team, who said he believed it was the right time to speak out.

“There’s still an issue. There are certain names you can’t take out of the team. You can’t replace those names with a player of colour,” Ntini said in a television interview.

We concur with Ntini that it is indeed time for us to be having these difficult conversations.

But the uncomfortable discussions cannot continue indefinitely. We need more than mere talk.

We must begin to see change, level the playing field and understand that it requires a collective effort — from the grass roots level to the top — to bring about real inclusion and equality in professional sporting codes.

 

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