Wednesday, February 13, 2008

President Norman Arendse on the state of the (cricket) nation

Sport, for some, is a barometer of the state of the nation, maybe more than the recent blahblahblah speech last week Friday, somewhere in Capetown. Admittedly, this is taking the importance of sport too far, yet it does have an element of truth in it. Hence, when there is a spat between the President of CricketSA, Norman Arendse and our national cricket coach, Mickey Arthur, on team selection, then the true sentiments with regards to transformation (even beyond cricket) starts to surface. In the public domain, it has been said time and time again, there is no more any racists in South Africa. Even when a young white boy, in cold-blooded fashion, finish his traditional weapon on innocent poor black people, then 'skielik', the crime situation in SA is to blame-there is nothing such as racism-it doesn't (and most probably never exist). To make along story short, Norman Arends has however put his finger, not only on a sore point in cricket, but also on the rest of our country as well, namely the sophistication with which racism mask itself within the new SA. Lets be frank: Bruin/Black South Africans people are dissatisfied with the levels of transformation in cricket, on all levels of our society, yet we love the game and the team, winning. We can still conjure up the images of the nation saying goodbye to Sir Polly, especially the vibe in PE. There are great things happening in sport today.

Yes, let us commend new Stormers coach, Rassie Erasmus, in the team selection for Saturday's game against the Bulls. Rassie, this is not a vindication for Bruinmense in the Cape (you have too much of a maverick-hard headed streak in you), this is the affirmation of what has been argued so many times, here at BDF: transformation and excellence (or merit), is not opposites. If other coaches like you, can open their eyes and see the bigger pool of talent, form and flair then we all can have winning teams to be proud of. The argument of many who push this line (transformation or merit), at the root, departs from the racist notion that the appointment, nomination or election of any one other than a white person was on the basis of something other than merit, and therefor means the lowering of the standard- hence the counterargument for merit and excellence as the sole criteria. Should there be a bruin or black person, then it was not on the basis of merit, but on the basis of 'transformation' or 'politiek'. When a white player is chosen, then its on merit. When Rassie and the Stormers selectors however looked at the whole pool and found on form, 15 men in black/blue, where 6 is not white, then people start to get worried, he was pushed, he is bucking under 'political' pressure. Well, he didn't, he simply enlarged the pool he can draw from, which gives him more options. He tried combinations with practice games against weaker teams, to blood new talent into the system. He was willing to widen his horizons.

On the other hand, we have national coaches, who don't look at the broader, the whole pool and with 'oogklappe' only see what they've been conditioned to see. It is at this point that brave administrators, have to pull out and uphold those lofty ideals that we've agreed upon during unification. Norman Arendse is one of them. All that we as a sport-loving nation are to expect from Norman is to keep the vision of a transformed, inclusive and representative pool of form and talent in front of Mickey Arthur. Between you and me, Prez Norman, maybe some-one like Gibbs, need to the time off to find his form, if ever again. You're right, Monde Zondeki should have been included, so should have been Charl Langeveld, great to see Robin Petersen, back in the pool again, but we need to development, broaden and keep pointing to the bigger pool. Keep it up Norman !

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