VINCE VAN DER BIJL: Cricket SA should not follow destructive path of ANC in finding way forward
A successful nation-building strategy in cricket will require extraordinary leadership to succeed in the quest for a miracle cure
Back to the future. To be more specific, the lessons of 1993 need to be examined by Cricket SA. Those visionary and courageous leaders of the ANC collaborated openly with all organisations to start the healing process of a land almost terminally ill from prejudice and inequality.
Even extraordinary leadership could not provide a miracle cure, though at times that seemed possible. They gave us a glimpse of what a better and brighter future could look like. Later unfortunately, destructive leadership followed.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the 1990s provided a platform to help start the healing process, as the Social Justice and Nation-building (SJN) project must for Cricket SA.
Currently, the racial divide springing from the SJN seems to have left little space for collaboration. Yet collaboration and working together is the only way forward. That is what the ANC has discarded, and its solitary control has led to the devastation of SA. It has amputated large areas of our strength owing to a desire for absolute control, diminishing this country’s potential and capability. Cricket SA should not follow suit.
A successful nation-building strategy in cricket will require extraordinary leadership to succeed in the quest for a miracle cure.
One leader standing tall is Proteas captain Temba Bavuma. Read carefully key parts of his statement. “I think the large majority of the guys welcome the initiative of the SJN and understand its necessity in terms of allowing current and former guys to speak about their experiences in the past. I think everyone understands the significance of it.
“I think the biggest take for me is that you want to create an environment that allows guys to have a strong sense of belonging; that allows guys to be themselves and to express themselves.”
Bavuma also stated: “It starts with having those hard conversations, whether those conversations stem from happenings outside the team. We are having those hard conversations as a team. We are putting each other in uncomfortable spaces and positions of vulnerability. Not so that we can expose each other, but just to find a better way going forward.”
Aren’t we fortunate to have his clarity and leadership at this time?
The SJN should, too, have conversations with an endless list of past and current legends such as Hashim Amla, Bavuma, Dean Elgar, Kagiso Rabada and Shaun Pollock. These cricketers have been in the thick of the game and they will have possible solutions that need to be considered.
The well-constructed SJN submissions are so welcome and will help the SJN move forward productively. The numerous testimonies regarding racial bias on selection and those from dismissed Cricket SA managers need thorough examination to extract relevance.
Sadly, many journalists have jumped in with their “expert” opinions before all evidence has been heard, increasing the tension and divide.
Many submissions made are more in line with a divorce court than a commission. Most divorce lawyers advise their clients to engage in mediation so that the parties see past their emotions and arrive at an outcome which is ultimately better for the parties, their children and families. Invariably, everybody will be a little unhappy but usually feel that they have been heard and a solution found which addresses the interests of all. Most divorce lawyers will tell you that if mediation fails and the matter goes to trial, everybody loses — except the lawyers.
Mediation, not dismissal, will be an essential tool to settle some rather personal accusations. The ombud, Dumisa Ntsebeza, no doubt will know that racism has many guises — certain submissions have already shown that.
Sadly, this commission only covers the professional game and does not incorporate the positive and incredible work at grassroots and the broader amateur cricket community. Schools, clubs, organisations and many former players are getting on with the business of ensuring that as many children as possible are being given an equal opportunity in cricket and life. The future is unfolding before us, unheralded, as our fractured history is now the focus.
Eradicating racism and developing a strong successful cricket nation has to be done on the ashes of our dismal education and sporting system. This is an immense task.
We must learn from the past, yet now we need to join hands, listen, embrace and move forward together.
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