Jonty Rhodes is convinced that the protracted administrative crisis in South African cricket is responsible for the national team’s inconsistency and acknowledged that “racial inequality” remains a part of the country’s ecosystem. Cricket South Africa (CSA) is facing financial hardship and allegations of racial discrimination by its players. President Chris Nenzani resigned last month after a seven-year government marred by corruption allegations. Amid the dark times, there is hope in the form of South Africa’s most successful captain, Graeme Smith, who is currently the cricket director at CSA.
“Graeme Smith has come under a lot of criticism lately, but he was the captain of the team that had the very first team culture camp and came up with the ‘Protea Fire,'” Rhodes told PTI, referring to the 2014 campaign that focused on humility. resilience, adaptability, unity and respect in the team as the nation’s ambassador.
In the wake of allegations of racism by 30 former South African players, including Ashwell Prince and Makhaya Ntini, an extensive national team of 32 had a “culture camp” last month.
Rhodes, who is in Dubai as a field coach for Kings XI Punjab prior to the IPL, feels that not much will change in South African cricket until the administrative chaos is over.
“The sad thing for me is that although the top 30 players in the country want to work together for the game, the administration is in such chaos that it unfortunately has an impact on things (on the field),” said Rhodes.
CSA has had interim CEOs and coaches in the recent past and that can’t help, Rhodes says.
“Someone like me who is not part of the system, we read week in and week out about cricket issues in South Africa and it hasn’t been resolved.
“The same mistakes are made and there is not much accountability. I am sorry … it does affect performance on the field. Even though we have some great players, we lacked consistency in performance because of inconsistency outside the field. ”
Such is the state of affairs that Smith received “death threats” for his support of the global Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
Current pacemaker Lungi Ngidi has been criticized by former players like Pat Symcox and Boeta Dippenaar for supporting BLM. They argued that “all lives matter”.
Rhodes prefers the term “racial inequality” to racism and said it is rampant even 26 years after South Africa became a democracy.
“It’s interesting because that’s what a democracy is all about. You are entitled to your opinion and interestingly your opinion is different from someone else’s, but you are still part of the same system,” he said when he told him. was asked about black and white players who criticize each other.
“In India there is such a big difference from state to state, but it is considered one race, but in South Africa, even though we are all South Africans, there is social and economic inequality because of the apartheid regime.
“This white privilege still extends and continues generation after generation, it is difficult for young black children who come up in a disadvantaged community to have a better life than their parents, just because of a lack of facilities. so much corruption, ”he explained. .
Rhodes said the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the fault lines.
“COVID-19 has highlighted all of these differences, but they have been there for the past 26 years.”
The quota system has been institutionalized in South Africa, including cricket, which requires the national team to field an average of six players of color over the course of a season.
Is Rhodes in favor of the quota system? He admitted that the issue is complicated even for those who have benefited from the system.
“That (quota) has been the bot fights for many ex players … no matter how good they were, it was always considered a quota selection. That affected them emotionally and mentally when playing for a team where they felt like no one trusted or supported them.
“People keep asking me about white privilege and I keep saying that I grew up in a regime that was completely designed to give me the best opportunity. So there’s racial inequality, some people call that racism, and there must be a level playing field, ”he added.
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