The Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) commission published and haded over its 235-page report after six months of questioning and investigation in matters of racial discrimination in South African cricket.
The report claimed that AB de Villiers, one of the pioneering figures in recent South African cricket history was prejudicial and discriminatory towards players of colour in his team selection as captain. However, the 38-year-old cricketer refused to be identified as such and tweeted a clarification immediately after the publication of the report.
Writing on his personal Twitter handle, de Villiers said, “I support the aims of CSA’s Social Justice and Nation Building process, to ensure equal opportunities in cricket.” “However, in my career, I expressed honest cricketing opinions only ever based on what I believed was best for the team, never based on anyone’s race. That’s the fact,” his tweet added.
The SJN ombudsman Dumisa Ntsebeza though in his finding said that de Villiers flouted the National Selection policy during the ODI series against India in 2015. The report said that by not selecting an already available batter Khaya Zondo and asking the then CSA CEO Haroon Logart to fly in Dean Elgar, a prominently long format batter to replace an all-rounder JP Duminy who got injured on the tour.
The report also says that AB was wrong in bypassing the convenor of national selectors Linda Zondi and talking directly to the CEO to receive favourable results in favour of his decision. The report says that AB did so, "just to ensure that a black player was not placed in a position which he deemed as requiring greater experience. The only reasonable conclusion is that Mr de Villiers unfairly discriminated against Mr Zondo on racial grounds."
In this very report, the SJN has also levelled serious charges of discrimination and racial biasedness against the current coach of the national outfit Mark Boucher and the current director of cricket, CSA, Graeme Smith.
In relation to former bowling all-rounder, Andre Adams testifying against Boucher saying that he was instrumental in nicknaming the former as "b**** s***" by his national team-mates, the ombudsman called the national coach a person that lacked "sensitivity and understanding of the racist undertones.”
This comes after Boucher attempted to excuse racism in his apology saying that white players were unprepared for the realities of post-Apartheid team dynamics.
In the case of Smith, who threatened to quit cricket if Thami Tsolekile replaced Mark Boucher after the latter was injured during South Africa’s tour of England in 2012, the report says that Smith’s decision making showed clear signs of systemic racism.
"The decision of the panel was totally irrational. CSA, Mr Graeme Smith and some selectors at the time really failed Mr Tsolekile and many black players of this time in many ways," read the report.
Tsolekile was set to replace injured wicketkeeper Boucher, but instead, de Villiers who was in the team purely as a batter was played in the role of the wicket-keeper shattering the then 32-year-old Tsolekile’s hopes of making a return to the national side post his Test debut in 2004.
Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) commission formed by Cricket South Africa to investigate the matters of racial discrimination on the part of its players and selectors towards players of colour in the national team, has finally submitted its report. The SJN ombudsman Dumisa Ntsebeza has found three main heroes from South Africa’s golden generation of cricketers in former captain current Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, current head coach Mark Boucher and former captain AB de Villiers to have been engaged in prejudicial conduct, which was based on the race of the player. In the final 235-page report, the ombudsman has recommended that a permanent ombudsman needs to be appointed, funded and handed resources to deal with race and gender-based complaints in CSA and the body must also put in place an anonymous grievance policy for players to put forward their issues without any fear. In the matter, no reparations have been granted to those found to have been unfairly discriminated against. However, the report does make case for reparations that could be given to players by a permanent office. The SJN process, which was commissioned after many players of colour came forward and narrated their ordeals in the aftermath of the Balck Lives Matter movement all across the world. It was initially supposed to last four months but ended up lasting over six months, costing the organisation R7.5 million (US$500,000). Saying that they will engage with the report further in 2022, Lawson Naidoo, the CSA board chairperson confirmed that no decision has so far been taken to punish anyone. "The board is still considering the report. It is a hefty document and needs a holistic response. No decisions have been taken on any issues raised in the report and it would be premature to speculate on any action that may be taken,” Naidoo was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo. “Overall, the SJN was an important process and that's why the board backed it all the way. It is now the responsibility of the board to engage with the report,” he further added.
Melbourne Stars’ captain Glenn Maxwell’s efforts went in vain against Sydney Sixers in Melbourne after Josh Philippe’s unbeaten 61-ball 99 anchored Sydney to a win by 7 wickets. Chasing a stiff target of 178 in 20 overs, the Sydney Sixers had a decent start as they put 84 in 10 overs at the loss of only two wickets as Moises Henriques chipped in with some important runs. He scored 29 off 20 deliveries before getting out to Adam Zampa. Philippe was then joined by Daniel Hughes and the two batters stitched a partnership of 32 runs for the third wicket before the latter was sent back in the hut for a 10-ball 11. But there were no further fall of wickets as Jordan Silk who came in next along with Philippe steadied the ship for the side and built an unbeaten stand of 66 runs and saw the side home. Silk remained not out for 25 off 19. Earlier, in the day, the Stars were struggling at 59/3 when Maxwell took the onus on himself and hit his first BBL century to provide the resistance to the side and led them to a total of 177/5 in 20 overs. Henriques expressed delight after the win but admitted that the side gave away some extra 15-20 runs especially after the start they had got with the ball. “Very happy. With the start that we had with the ball, we thought they got 15-20 too many. The wicket started to play a lot better after the initial phase. Glenn put on a show which was pretty special. Josh basically replicated that. It was very special to watch. We got away to a better start than them,” he said after the match.
England star pacer James Anderson has some words of caution for his fellow pacers in the England team for the second Test of the Ashes series to be played with the pink ball at the Adelaide Oval. He has urged his teammates to not have unrealistic expectations from the Pink ball that it will “swing around corners or seam anything like that” and hence they should not be walking away from their discipline in line and length of the attack. He has had success with the Pink ball on the last tour and picked a five-wicket haul but still, he maintained that bowlers need to be wary of becoming too greedy in search of swing and seam. He said bowlers should look for swing in the air with the new ball but they should be ready to pull their lengths back as well when it doesn’t move in the air as they do with the red ball. He also addressed the twilight phase of the game when it is believed that the ball offers more swing and seam from the surface and said that while all those assistance can play a part, it can’t be the only way of attack in a bowler’s mind. He said that bowlers should be prepared to give their best and challenge the batsmen irrespective of the time of the day or night and with or without pronounced help in specific periods of time. "I had success with (Pink ball) last time here but, obviously, it is quite temperamental," Anderson said. "It's not a given that it's going to swing around corners, or seam, or anything like that. We know it's generally a good pitch here, and if the sun's out, then it won't do a great deal.” "It doesn't necessarily do nothing during the day, but it might not do as much. Especially for a new-ball bowler, you got to try and see if it's swinging. If not, then maybe you go slightly more defensive. If it is swinging, you can attack a little bit more. It's just the same in that respect as any other Test match, to be honest. It's something that we'll try and read as we go along,” he added. "There might be times during the game, at twilight when it gets dark under the lights, it might do a little bit more. But it's just it's trying to take advantage of those times when it does do a little bit more," he said. "Both sides will be hoping for that, but there's nothing that we can control about that. We've got to be able to bowl well in all conditions, whether the sun's out at two o'clock in the afternoon or whether it's nine o'clock at night under lights." However, he is not downplaying the prodigious things a Pink ball can do and he has watched a lot of Day-Night Tests in Australia to understand what sort of line and lengths he should follow while bowling in the Adelaide Test. He highlighted the bowling spell of Josh Hazlewood against India the last summer at the same venue and expressed his eagerness to emulate some of the methods Australia’s quick adopted to stop Australia’s winning streak at home in Ashes. "I've watched most of the pink-ball Tests here, whether it was actually being here or in middle of the night back home, to get an idea of how I should be bowling these conditions," Anderson said. "That was certainly a spell I watched and hopefully I can do something similar. From that and the practice that we've had, we know that it swings around at times, even earlier on in the day,” he added. Anderson was rested from the first game played at the Gabba as the England team management believed he was not fully prepared for the toil he would have to go through in the first Test as he was coming off a prolonged period away from the game. He has made his way back into the playing XI and England would be banking on him to repeat his last performance with the Pink ball in the 2017-18 Ashes series.