The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) says in a statement it has long argued that merit should be the primary basis of selecting sportsmen and women to represent South Africa at national level.
According to the think tank, “a case can be made for initiatives to promote inclusivity at lower levels” but they should not be considered in top-flight international sport. “Players of colour who are good enough to be noticed by national selectors through performances in franchise cricket are unlikely to need an additional leg-up in any case.”
The IRR says that even without any sort of racial target, based on their merits, close to half of the squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup will likely be ‘players of colour’ in any event. The likes of Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, and JP Duminy, among others, will be among the first names jotted down on any selector’s team sheet for a South African ODI XI.
“And this is the way most South Africans want their national teams to be selected. A new IRR poll, which is to be released later this year, shows that 83% of South Africans (and 82% of black South Africans) believe that the only criteria for selecting national sports teams should be merit…most South Africans are more concerned about the performance of the national side than the skin colour of individual players,” reads the statement.
According two the IRR the country divert its attention from focusing on the racial make-up of national sports teams but rather “strive as far as possible to ensure that everyone who wants to play a sport, and excel in it, has the opportunity to do so. But it is telling that fewer than 1 500 of our 23 500 public schools even have a cricket pitch. Ensuring that a certain proportion of the Proteas are black won’t change this”.