Will the quota system do more harm than good for the future of South African cricket?

South Africa implemented the racial quota system in September 2016

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

South Africa are trying to revolutionise cricket in their country through a racial quota system, but while the idea has been embraced by some, there are also hard questions that must be asked.

Adopted and implemented in the national team by Cricket South Africa in September last year, the quota system is supposed to give cricketers of different skin colour, backgrounds and ethnicities a fair opportunity to represent their country.

Before going more into my opinion on the quota system, it is important to know the specifics behind it.

Basically put, the quota system dictates that the Proteas squad must field a minimum average of six players of colour, of which at least two must be black African.

However, South Africa don’t have to field six players of colour in all their matches, but must meet the average over a period of time. So, if they field fewer players of colour in one match, they must make up for it in another game.

Black Africans make up the majority of the population in South Africa and the national men’s cricket team and Cricket South Africa have come under fire in the past few years for the lack of black Africans to have represented South Africa.

Feeling the heat, Cricket South Africa opted not to stand idly by and instead chose to take action by bringing the racial quota system into effect.

Many people have let me know their thoughts on the implementation on the quota system, with some believing it is a great idea, while others have their doubts about it.

For me personally, it is brilliant to see Cricket South Africa taking the initiative by offering more players of different backgrounds a pathway to make their dreams of playing cricket for South Africa become a reality.

No doubt, it is satisfying to see players of different skin colour, ethnicities and beliefs merging together to form a team that proudly dons their country’s flag on their hearts. That is about as beautiful as it gets when it comes to team sports, whereby you see those players line up with their arms around each other’s shoulders and ooze patriotism while the national anthem echoes around the stadium.

No doubt the quota system has its benefits as it brings people closer together in a country that has been affected by racial violence, especially during the time of Apartheid.

But, while it has been gratifying to see black Africans, coloured players and white Africans forging together to make South Africa into the cricket powerhouse it is today, questions have to be asked about whether the quota system is really the best thing when it comes to sports in South Africa.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s inspiring to see the large increase in the number of black Africans and coloured players getting an opportunity to play for the Proteas. For example, pace bowler Kagiso Rabada is a black African, but he deserves his place in all three squads as he is a highly talented bowler that is on track to become the country’s pace spearhead.

Rabada has established himself as one of the elite pace bowlers in South Africa

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

But, despite the example of Rabada, it must be questioned whether Cricket South Africa are taking the quota system too far by picking players solely based on their skin colour rather than their cricketing talent.

It’s hard to say, but the one major thing that really concerns me is whether a talented cricketer, who could potentially become the next Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers or Makhaya Ntini, is being sidelined solely based on the fact that he is of a certain skin colour.

Should that turn out to be the case, then it is something that must be ratified immediately as Cricket South Africa have to focus on their main aim of helping the national team reach the summit of the rankings in all three formats.

The quota system is, without a shadow of a doubt, an important landmark when it comes to South African cricket, but again, one must take some time to ponder about whether race should come first or whether fielding the best team is most important.

As for the future landscape of South Africa cricket, it certainly looks promising, but the quota system could threaten to be more of a setback rather than a revolutionary driving force to take South Africa cricket to the next level.

In regards to my views on the quota system, it definitely has some drawbacks as with any sport, players should be selected on their talent rather than skin colour or ethnicity. Furthermore, it would also be a huge shame if a cricketer, who could be the next big thing, failed to get the chance to represent South Africa solely based on the fact that the national team have to meet the targets of the quota system.

Feature written by Bimal Mirwani

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