Proteas legend Jonty Rhodes has said white privilege helped him secure his first selection into South Africa’s national cricket team.
In an interview with Indian publication The Hindu over the weekend, Rhodes said as a white cricketer growing up during apartheid, he only had to compete with a limited section of South Africa’s population at the time.
He explained, “You talk about white privilege and it raises a lot of heat and debate on social media but it is the case. I’m very aware of that. My cricketing statistics as a player were very average when I was selected.
‘I wouldn’t have been picked’
Rhodes added, “If I was competing with the rest of the country then possibly I wouldn’t have been picked. And I would not have been diving around the field.”
Transformation in cricket was brought to the fore again earlier this month when batsman Temba Bavuma was omitted from the Proteas squad against England in the second Test.
Although Bavuma and all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo have been recalled to the squad for the fourth Test, premier fast bowler Kagiso Rabada has been suspended.
Cricket South Africa’s transformation targets require the fielding of six players of colour, including at least two black Africans.
Opportunities in disadvantaged communities
Rhodes, who is widely regarded as one of cricket’s best fielders ever, lamented that equal opportunities are not accorded to disadvantaged communities.
He said, “The biggest question for me is why in over 20 years have we not produced opportunities for young players in disadvantaged communities? It’s not about racism. It’s about equal opportunity and that’s not happening.”
This has resulted in the absence of a large pool of talented black players on the domestic cricket scene, he explained.
Rhodes added that the cricket fraternity could learn from the way rugby administrators have built structures in disadvantaged areas.
According to him, South Africa’s democratic transition resulted in political freedom, but not economic freedom, in such areas.
In their series against England, the Proteas won the first Test convincingly, but struggled in the second and third Tests. They lost the third Test by an embarrassing innings and 53 runs.
The fourth Test is set to begin on Friday in Johannesburg.