Friday, Jul 12, 2002
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A high-powered and seemingly tense meeting between government and cricket officials outside Pretoria was convened at the request of Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour.
It followed the UCB's decision on Sunday to abandon its racial quota system for provincial and national teams involving a mandatory four coloured players.
Balfour made little secret of his concern that quotas had not yet served their purpose while the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League threatened to disrupt the World Cup, due to start in under nine months, if quotas were not maintained.
A lengthy statement from the UCB following the meeting with Balfour and other senior politicians reaffirmed the board's commitment to ``the transformation of South African cricket into a truly national sport representative of all the people of South Africa.''
But the statement also said ``an expectation exists in South Africa that the team that takes the field during the World Cup will have at least five players of colour.''
The statement confirmed that ``the UCB committed itself to ensuring that a minimum of five black players would be in the South African national squad for the event.''
Ironically, black international players had earlier voiced their support for Sunday's decision to scrap race quotas.
Justin Ontong and Ashwell Prince, who were capped by South Africa last season, said they supported the thinking.
``You should put your best side onto the field,'' all-rounder Ontong told Reuters. ``If you're not good enough to play, bad luck.''
Ontong said quotas had been useful in exposing black players to the higher levels of the game, but he felt the value had been overshadowed by the system's negative aspects.
``I now know what is required to succeed at international level, but I wasn't in favour of quotas in the first place,'' Ontong said.
``They made us as coloured players feel inferior and that you weren't really a part of the team.''
Top-order batsman Prince said: ``If I get selected for a team, I'll be happy to know that I'm part of the best available eleven and that the best available eleven is playing.'' Reuters
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