South African cricket politics in black armband snub

mactheblack Roar Rookie

By mactheblack, mactheblack is a Roar Rookie

 , ,

33 Have your say

    Related coverage

    A new episode of racial politics has emerged around the South African cricket team, with the Proteas’ decision not to wear black armbands in their series against Pakistan following the deaths of former Springbok cricket captain Peter van der Merwe and fast bowler Neil Adcock.

    Why has this happened?

    The players themselves, apparently, decided these two great cricketers of the 1950s and ’60s were not worthy of being recognised because they had played apartheid sport.

    According to media, team management said decisions on black armbands were taken by the players in line with a commitment to respect sensitivities on both sides of SA cricket’s racially divided past.

    Talk about being politically correct.

    Does that mean my idol as a youngster, Graeme Pollock, will be also denied that honour one day? Does it mean the same will apply to Barry Richards, David Dyer, Tich Smith, Garth le Roux, and more?

    There are many of us who have scant regard or respect for past apartheid policies, but surely when it comes down to common decency, besides the fact players of the ilk of Van der Merwe and Adcock were undoubtedly two of the best of their time, shouldn’t any sportsman’s death befit the wearing of a black armband by those that come after them?

    It was not the fault of these players of the past that a system so reviled denied so many talented athletes a chance to wear the green and gold.

    Quoted on the website, Barry Richards, whose international career was limited to four Tests due to apartheid, said, “It’s time to forgive and forget.

    “We can’t keep up this pretence that there was no cricket before 1992 (when SA played their first Test after 22 years of apartheid-induced isolation).”

    Richards said he was a victim of apartheid.

    “I was three years old when the National Party came in to power in 1948, but I’ve paid the penalty.

    “They keep talking about disadvantaged people – no-one’s more disadvantaged than Graeme (Pollock) and me. We couldn’t have Test cricket and we’re not recognised now.

    “It was a sad part of our history, but let’s acknowledge that the guys who were good in that era were good, and when they die we respect them. It would be nice if the team did that.”

    Left-hander Pollock played 23 Tests before SA were kicked out of world cricket in 1970 and was officially recognised as the country’s Cricketer of the Century in 2000.

    Pollock said the lack of black armbands for Adcock and Van der Merwe, “is in line with the thinking that anything that happened pre-1992 doesn’t get any credit or wasn’t part of the system.

    “Everybody who has played for SA has made a contribution and those two gentlemen certainly made a contribution.

    “You’ve got to close the gap between the pre-’92 era and the current scenario. In Australia, all ex-cricketers are rewarded and thanked for their contribution.”

    Adcock, who took 104 wickets at an average of 21.10 in his 26 Tests, was among the most feared fast bowlers of the 1950s and early 1960s.

    Van der Merwe captained SA to their first Test series win in England, in 1965.

    According to cricket writer and columnist Telford Vice, former SA fast bowler Makhaya Ntini called for inclusiveness.

    “That’s our history – it doesn’t matter who you are or when you played, if you played for SA you should be remembered in this way,” Ntini said.

    Vice went on to say that Proteas team manager Mohammed Moosajee said the players were mindful of not offending any part of cricket’s constituency with decisions that could be politically charged.

    “It’s purely a player policy, and the player policy is that (they will consider wearing black armbands) if someone who is close to the team and management from a family perspective or someone who has been involved in Cricket SA, especially post-unity, dies,” Moosajee said.

    So questions might be asked how will Ali Bacher be honoured one day?

    He captained the 1970 team that whitewashed Australia, before the sporting boycott arrived. He was then appointed SA Cricket Union boss in the 80s and was instrumental in organising the rebel tours of the time that divided a nation and South African cricketing public.

    He then served the United Cricket Board and left to organise a successful 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa.

    I remember as a youngster watching the likes of Graeme Pollock, Chris Wilkins, Simon Bezuidenhout, Kepler Wessels, and Ken McEwan, among many, at St George’s Park in their heyday. They provided us with many thrilling moments.

    The apartheid politics of the day were abhorrent to say the least and left a bitter taste in the mouth.

    Today, in a new democracy, it seems we have lost the plot. If sport’s greater goal is to bring people together (especially in South Africa), we must at least pay homage to the great sporting icons of that time too.

    This is about humanity, acknowledgement and, as I said earlier, common decency. Not about scoring political points.

    Do you find yourself logged out of The Roar?
    We have just switched over to a secure site (https). This means you will need to log-in afresh. If you need help with recovering your password, please get in contact.

    This video is trending right now! Submit your videos for the chance to win a share of $10,000!

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (33)

    • February 11th 2013 @ 7:41am
      Rr said | February 11th 2013 @ 7:41am | ! Report

      “They keep talking about disadvantaged people – no-one’s more disadvantaged than Graeme (Pollock) and me. We couldn’t have Test cricket and we’re not recognised now.”


      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [].

      • February 11th 2013 @ 3:13pm
        Australian Rules said | February 11th 2013 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

        That did seem an ill-considered comment to say the least.

      • February 13th 2013 @ 2:41am
        chris said | February 13th 2013 @ 2:41am | ! Report

        Richards inadvertently showed why the policy exists.

        There are hundreds of coloured and black players who had even less of an opportunity than Pollock and Richards to play test cricket and who are completely forgotten today. Which of these player deserve to be honoured?

        Would Van der Merwe even have been a test player if D’Oliviera and others were eligible for selection? We’ll never know.

        The policy to only honour players and officials from the post-1992 era is based on the idea that CSA (or previously the United Cricket Board) is new body that came into existence after unification of the various cricketing boards in South Africa. Is the policy the right one? I don’t know, but it is not without merit and the alternative is not without its own pit falls.

        • Roar Guru

          February 13th 2013 @ 3:26am
          biltongbek said | February 13th 2013 @ 3:26am | ! Report

          Chris, so instead of making an honour roll of both black and white Cricketers of the bygone era and appointing them to this honour roll, the decision was tonot honour anyone?

    • Roar Guru

      February 11th 2013 @ 8:43am
      biltongbek said | February 11th 2013 @ 8:43am | ! Report

      I am just so tired of politics, it is a never ending story. It is beginning to sound like a bunch of siblings throwing blame and accusations at one another, in the aftermath all of them are guilty in one way or another.


      One side is for ever doing their level best to be politically correct and the other side is forever reminding every one they are guilty.

      I doubt it will ever end.

      • February 11th 2013 @ 12:22pm
        shakazulu said | February 11th 2013 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

        I’m with you as it is not helpful for reconciliation.

    • February 11th 2013 @ 9:22am
      Savvas Tzionis said | February 11th 2013 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      This sounds like mountain’s and molehill’s.

    • February 11th 2013 @ 1:22pm
      Bunny Colvin said | February 11th 2013 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

      Noticed with the South African cricket team they do not number test caps to include pre 1990s national representatives either. But really this is a new concept that I doubt the old players would be terribly concerned about. The Aussie team got the idea and everyone else copied.

      Probably the only thing that irks me about the South African team is when they came back into cricket they were still the Springboks. Basically every South African team was called the Boks, like all Australians are Kangaroos or Aussies. The first tour back in the fold I recall Kepler Wessells, Daryl Cullinan and co wearing the green caps with the springbok emblem. Then they switched to this corporate bland black and white ball style look, and again to the current “flower” emblem.

      Really, I have seen the springbok animal in the wild. It is just a cud chewing antelope. Cannot believe that is offensive. This weed/flower that is a pest is a bigger offense in my book.Surely over in Africa there are so many unique animals they could have come up with something better than this lousy flower? What about the Hippopotamusses? Everyone loves this lovable, lazy amphibious beast which just happens to be the biggest killer in Africa.

      The big symbol of the hippo on the cap would be a marked improvement on the current hotch-potch of rainbows and weeds.

      • Roar Guru

        February 11th 2013 @ 1:41pm
        JGK said | February 11th 2013 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

        Actually, I think many of the old players are unhappy about the numbering starting from 1992.

      • February 11th 2013 @ 2:54pm
        shakazulu said | February 11th 2013 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

        You think the protea is a weed? A lousy flower? Unbelievable. Please write to everyone from the White House,Buckingham Palace, our OZ Parliament etc and inform them to stop using proteas in their floral displays and bouquets. They need to know it is a weed and unsightly.But then again I must agree that a Hippo is very apt for some of our current forwards.

        • Roar Guru

          February 11th 2013 @ 3:12pm
          biltongbek said | February 11th 2013 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

          I am kinda partial to a Rhino.

      • February 13th 2013 @ 2:08am
        chris said | February 13th 2013 @ 2:08am | ! Report

        Not a waratah fan I take it?

    • February 11th 2013 @ 3:12pm
      Australian Rules said | February 11th 2013 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

      The fact that SA’s cricketing greats are not recognised is a sad reality for the Rainbow nation.

      When these men are finally given their due recognition, the country will seem to have truly matured from Aparthied, through BE, to a modern society who is at peace with it’s history and it’s future.

    • Roar Guru

      February 11th 2013 @ 5:10pm
      sheek said | February 11th 2013 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

      Perhaps I’m reading this wrongly, but if the decsion was made by the current South African test cricket playing group, to NOT honour the passing of van der Merwe & Adcock by wearing black armbands, then what bunch of pathetic, grovelling wowsers they are.

      Some might try to reinvent the past by pretending parts of it didn’t exist. But I was there & I remember it. I saw it & I followed it. I followed the exploits of South African cricketers as they butchered my Aussies in 1970. I followed their exploits in English county cricket, for world teams, WSC & the rebel tours.

      It happened.

      Barry Richard is the best SA opener I’ve seen in 45 years of following sport. He is better than Smith.

      Graeme Pollock is the best SA middler I’ve seen in 45 years of following sport. As a batsman pure, he is superior to Kallis & Amla.

      Mike Procter is the best SA bowling all-rounder I’ve seen in 45 years of following sport. Kallis is the best batting all-rounder & Procter is the best bowling all-rounder. Clive Rice would be a close second to Procter. They are both better than Shaun Pollock.

      Richards, G.Pollock & Procter would all be in my best SA team of the past 45 years. They existed & they were damn good.

      • Roar Guru

        February 11th 2013 @ 5:22pm
        biltongbek said | February 11th 2013 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

        Sheek sadly the political climate in South Africa has its own unique set of rules. They say history is written by the ruling party. What they should say in fine print is that the ruling party also omits and edits history.

        The rest of us merely dances to the tune of the ruling party.

        Hence why I stay away from politics as much as possible..

        • Roar Guru

          February 11th 2013 @ 7:47pm
          sheek said | February 11th 2013 @ 7:47pm | ! Report


          I understand precisely what you’re saying, politics is a real pain in the neck, full of imbeciles.

          But I value the compulsory vote, & I hope we never go down the American path of voluntary voting.

          But some of those political imbeciles can become very dangerous if given an opportunity. In ANY country, even here in Australia.

          I reckon many Germans couldn’t be bothered with politics in the late 1920s & early 1930s, then one day they woke up & found that there a lot of things they once took for granted that were now taken away from them.

          And look where that took the world……….

          With respect to cricket, the current govt needs to be reminded, often & strenuously that right or wrong, there was a vibrant cricket history in South Africa before 1992. It might have been flawed, but it existed.

          South Africa have themselves to blame also. A mid to late 1950s bowling attack of Adcock & Heine opening, Tayfield the genius off-spinner in the middle & two brilliant all-rounders in Goddard & D’Oliveira rounding out the attack.

          D’Oliveira’s enforced loss to South Africa was England’s, & the world’s gain. But I appreciate there were also others like D’Oliveira thus affected.

          • February 11th 2013 @ 11:26pm
            Dadiggle said | February 11th 2013 @ 11:26pm | ! Report

            I can not understand the Oliveira situation. Apart from Britain being busy training people who were affiliated with communist parties and them losing much of the money they are tapping out of the South African mines they turned the Oliveira situation was used for political agenda’s rather than sport.

            In the late sixties, American tennis player, Arthur Ashe applied for a visa to play in South Africa. His Visa was refused, because Ashe told his supporters he wanted to come to South Africa to “put a crack in the Apartheid Wall”. He added that “I would like to drop an H-bomb on Johannesburg”.

            Colour had nothing to do with it. Can you imagine what would have happened if a South African tennis player made such a threat about Washington DC or New York?

            In 1973 Arthur Ashe applied again. This time he was allowed in. He played, passed criticism and lost in the finals against fellow American Jimmy Connors. He quickly toured SA, loved it and then left. The next year he wanted to come back. At the time South Africa had 60,000 registered white tennis players and 22,000 black, coloured and Indian players, 20,000 of which were affiliated to the White union. The famous Sugar Circuit and other major tournaments were open to all races. Davis Cup selection was strictly on merit.

            At the same time that Ashe played in SA, the American black boxer Bob Foster came to defend his light-heavyweight title against Pierre Fourie whom he narrowly defeated. 1981 the Springbok rugby players who included a coloured player called Errol Tobias, were flour-bombed from airplanes in New Zealand and had to train in horse stables.

            Funny thing is Apartheid did not start in 1948. It started in the 1800’s laws implemented by the British and as the years went on it was relaxed by the Government. All laws the Apartheid govt made was to ban all parties affiliated to communism same as what USA and Australia did in the 50’s and the terrorism act same as what most countries got today. The creators of the Bantustans were not the Boers or the Whites, it was a Zulu King called Shaka. Tribes fleeing Shaka‟s carnage grouped themselves into areas finding protection in concentrated numbers.

            Do me a favor quick. Rate the following for me on how evil it was. 1 for lowest 5 for highest.
            Gowon, Mengisthu, Hutu, Kim IL Sung and Apartheid

          • Roar Rookie

            February 12th 2013 @ 12:33am
            Neuen said | February 12th 2013 @ 12:33am | ! Report

            What about Pietersen and Rathbone?
            Charl Langeveldt withdrawing from the squad when he was chosen as a quota player in the place of a bowler in better form. Openly stating that he did not deserve his place?
            Being majority does not mean its racism when a team is represented by a minority culture. When one grow up your parents influence the sport you get to love. I have been to South Africa numerous times and the African culture only a few of them are introduced into cricket or rugby that way. The rest of them prefer football as South Africa’s majority is football mad.
            Being a majority does not mean anything. Color doesn’t guarantee talent and one can not give a person talent if there is none.
            When it comes to cricket and rugby the African people are the minority playing and supporting it. Same as going off with Australia why there is not more natives in their team and why its only white as well.

      • February 11th 2013 @ 7:42pm
        Evan Askew said | February 11th 2013 @ 7:42pm | ! Report

        I think if Sepp Herberger, who was a nazi party member, and Fritz Walter, who served in the German military on the eastern front, can be honoured for their achievments in football in Germany, then I think players who played for the South African cricket team in the apartheid era, and as far as we can tell did not have membership of the nationalist party, should be honoured. Unless they committed specific acts or made statements in support of the repulsive nationalist regime, then I don’t see the problem with them being honoured. They can hardly help the era in whcih they played cricket in?

      • February 11th 2013 @ 10:19pm
        Brewski said | February 11th 2013 @ 10:19pm | ! Report

        very good post sheek.

    , ,