Hopefully this year Cricket South Africa (CSA) will call in the consultants and the experts before making any decisions about transformation quotas in franchise cricket, but something that happened in the lift at the Wanderers suggests this season’s increased targets have been a mixed success.
It was after the T20 international against England and a group of youngish Black African fans, three guys and a woman, walked into the lift in animated, festive mood, having obviously had a good evening.
They were raving about the whole Wanderers stadium experience and one of them said “I’ve actually been to the Wanderers more times this season than I ever have before!”
Now, considering that there have only been three international matches in Johannesburg this summer, that tells you that the demographic most sought after by CSA is coming to franchise matches, which is surely a good thing.
I had a more scientific look at the situation via the averages and they show that there are several Black African bowlers of quality. The Knights are challenging for the Sunfoil Series title thanks to the efforts of Mbulelo Budaza, Tumi Masekela and Malusi Siboto, who have taken 39 wickets between them at an average of 15.25 at the halfway mark, providing superb support for Duanne Olivier (19 wkts @ 14.84).
Ethy Mbhalati is top of the Titans averages with 18 wickets at an average of 17, while, in the Momentum One-Day Cup, Siboto is the leading wicket-taker with 19, Junior Dala is third with 16, Tshepo Moreki has 15 scalps and Sisanda Magala 14. Eddie Leie and Andile Phehlukwayo have both taken 11 wickets, while Pumelela Matshikwe and Aaron Phangiso have been amongst the most economical bowlers in the competition, helping the Highveld Lions to the final.
Some of the same names featured prominently in the RamSlam T20 Challenge, with Magala finishing with the second-most wickets, Phangiso and Siboto having outstanding campaigns in terms of both wickets and economy, while Leie and Phehlukwayo were both among the leading wicket-takers. Lungi Ngidi showed promise in seven matches for the Titans.
But in terms of the bowlers, we already knew that was where the Black African talent is concentrated. Where are the batsmen looking to follow Temba Bavuma?
An average of 39 for Omphile Ramela is a bit disappointing for him considering he averaged 48 for the Cape Cobras last season, while there have been brief flashes of brilliance from Mangaliso Mosehle with his spectacular match-winning innings in the T20 final, Khaya Zondo in the One-Day Cup and Letlotlo Sesele, Thami Tsolekile and Somila Seyibokwe here and there.
To be fair though, the batting averages are dominated in general by the old guard – Vilas, Petersen, Cook, Kuhn, Ontong, Smit and Ingram.
As predicted in this column before the season started, coloured players are the ones losing out most in terms of opportunity and CSA are going to have to undergo a thorough review with the franchise coaches, players’ association and Corrie van Zyl’s cricket department to properly unpick the effects of a new system that was implemented on the whim of an individual.
There is currently a lot of negativity around South African domestic cricket, but to some extent the quality of local competition has always ebbed and flowed.
What is clear is that some of the sternest critics are sourcing their information from the sort of people who thought Geoff Toyana fielding for the Lions last week was due to quotas. What nonsense, especially since it was a White student who eventually replaced the coach as an emergency 12th man, forced into duty due to two injuries, one in the warm-up and one in the first half-hour.
These are the same sort of people who think protesters interrupting a rugby match is racist. How on earth does that make sense unless they believe rugby actually belongs to white people?
Fortunately cricket is further down the road away from that attitude. If the majority of the population love cricket, it can only be good for the game.