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Jonty Rhodes rues decay of domestic structure in South Africa

BENGALURU:  South African cricket is going through a bad patch. Top players have retired, promising players have left the country for better careers in other countries. The quota system based on race has not helped either. As a result of these and other factors, their performance graph has been on a downward journey for a while. According to the quota system, South Africa’s playing XI has to have six players of colour, including two black Africans. However, it did not happen in the first two Tests in the ongoing series against England. They fielded only four — Keshav Maharaj, Zubayr Hamza, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada.

The latter was the lone black African. Questions were raised when they ignored a fit-again Temba Bavuma for the second Test. The team management is also in a fix when it comes to black players. There is dearth of the quality that is required at the top level. Even with the quota policy in place, not many black players have come up who can replace a Test regular. Besides Makhaya Ntini and Rabada, one can hardly think of other black Africans who have a mark on the international stage. Jonty Rhodes feels their system is not producing enough good players.

The fielding legend says the policy of selecting players based on colour is not bearing fruit either. “Now if you have a scenario where Rabada is injured and (Lungi) Ngidi can’t play, that will mean Bavuma has to play. You’re dropping a fast bowler but bringing in a batsman. From that perspective, it really is tough,” said Rhodes, who was in the city to attend the Global Sports Injury Conclave. Rhodes raises an important question. “Why are we not producing young players of all colours who can make that step up? Is our domestic structure not strong enough?” This dearth of talent from a particular community forced authorities to push whites like Rassie van der Dussen and Dwaine Pretorius into the Test team of late. “We have a legacy of apartheid in South Africa.