Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers reportedly threatened to walk out of the national team during a 2015 series in India if Khaya Zondo was selected, according to a report in News 24.
Khaya Zondo was in the ODI squad for the tour but could not play a single game. The South African news outlet quoted former Cricket South Africa (CSA) President Norman Arendse’s report into the incident, saying that Zondo’s name had been on the team sheet on the night before the 5th ODI in Mumbai. However, he was later removed from the playing XI as he missed the chance of his debut. Arendse reportedly said that the snub was ‘unfair and contrary to the CSA selection policy’.
The Proteas had flown in Dean Elgar and instead of Zondo, he got the chance to play in the fifth ODI in place of the injured JP Duminy during this series. On the other hand, Zondo, who had been an original part of the ODI squad, warmed the bench throughout.
What was even more surprising in Elgar’s recall was that he was nowhere in the picture to play the series. Before the call-up for the India tour to replace injured Duminy, Elgar had played just five ODIs and had not been considered for the previous 70 matches in the format.
After the series, a group of cricketers calling themselves ‘Black Players in Unity’ had written a letter to the South African cricket board highlighting Zondo’s role in the 2015 series. They argued that black cricketers were being taken into the squad to adhere to South Africa’s racial transformation policy but that they were being seen as ‘water carriers’.
Arendse, a former CSA president and a legal advocate, had been made convener of a task team to address these grievances in 2016. Recently, former South Africa batsman Ashwell Prince also brought up the issue of how Zondo was treated.
Literally every WC since, or poor series blamed on TRANSFORMATION, or otherwise translated if you like, “because we have to play with these people” 2016 in India, ZONDO selected by selectors, IN THE STARTING 11 ( I know, because I was a selector) Zondo doesn’t play? Why?
— Ashwell Prince (@ashyp_5) July 10, 2020
2015 was a year of controversies for South African cricket. Following their narrow defeat in the World Cup semifinal earlier that year, there were reports that AB de Villiers had been forced to play Vernon Philander in the XI instead of Kyle Abbott.
Writing in AB: The Autobiography, AB deVilliers wrote that he had been called a day before the semifinal and told to include Philander even though it had been “generally assumed” Abbott would play. He had questioned if that move had been motivated by “purely cricketing reasons”.
At present, South African cricket is once again involved in controversies. Several former cricketers like Prince, Makhaya Ntini and Thami Tsolekile have claimed that they were racially discriminated in the South African team. The revelations have been made by the former cricketers in the wake of Black Lives Matter movement across the globe.
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