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Opinion

Devon Conway is yet another talented South African playing for a different country

Ben Hann new author
Roar Rookie
3rd June, 2021
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Ben Hann new author
Roar Rookie
3rd June, 2021
115
1235 Reads

Devon Conway has become one of New Zealand’s newest assets in what is becoming an extremely strong Black Caps side following his debut Test double century at Lord’s.

Conway opened for the Kiwis, who have been looking for a partner to stick with the consistent Tom Latham, and he put the visitors in control after scoring a brilliant 200 runs.

While England may not be playing with their strongest squad, a bowling attack that includes James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood is still world-class, but they were no match for Conway’s fluent strokes.

What is noteworthy about Conway is that he’s from Johannesburg in South Africa. While this may at first be confusing, most cricket fans would be getting a strong sense of déjà vu when they hear this fact. After all, it’s nothing new.

There are many names currently, and throughout history, who have left the rainbow nation to ply their trade against them. England’s white-ball opener Jason Roy, Australia’s number three Marnus Labuschagne and New Zealand quick Neil Wagner are just a few of many currently playing today.

In the past, England has taken great advantage of wantaway South Africans with players such as superstar Kevin Pietersen and former captains Andrew Strauss and Tony Greig.

It is quite remarkable that, given how many great players listed here and many more besides, South Africa have had as many good players as they’ve had.

Imagine their side ten years ago that had Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, AB De Villiers and Dale Steyn added with Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Strauss. Scary.

While it is great fun imagining this, there are likely many cricket fans wondering why South Africa just cannot seem to hold on to all this talent they have bursting at the seams, pun intended.

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A poignant similarity that should be pointed out between all these players mentioned above is their skin colour.

As a result of the downfall of South Africa’s apartheid and fresh start as a rainbow nation, South Africa’s cricket team has a racial quota. The quota in place ensures there are two native Africans and four mixed-race players. This means there can be a maximum of five white players in any one game.

What makes it even more tedious for the white players who potentially aren’t in the side due to the quota is that players who don’t secure a national contract are severely underpaid in relation to their ability.

That is what makes the lure of overseas contracts, particularly in England’s County Championship, very appealing, because they have far greater financial security, and the level of competition is far greater.

A good example of this is Kevin Pietersen, who grew frustrated with the South African system, and due to his father being English, was eligible to play for England.

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The other reason is also due to the apartheid. Many white South African families fled the country afterwards for various reasons meaning there were many players, particularly in this generation, who left as children meaning they had no choice in the matter.

Unfortunately for the Proteas, it is very difficult to fix this problem. South Africa is a developing nation and so it would be naïve to think that the financial situation of domestic players will improve drastically.

It is even less likely that the quota will be abolished. Just last year, the side fell one player short of meeting the quota two games in a row in a series against England, which brought such controversy that the country’s president spoke on the matter.

Devon Conway may play a big factor in the upcoming Test Championship final, but in what is a painfully familiar sight for South Africa, he will not be wearing the Proteas badge as they see yet another world-class talent slip through their fingers.

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