Quota System in South African Cricket and Transformation Policy – The Complete Guide: Official Policy, Myths, Stats, and the 2015 World Cup Controversy

by Oct 6, 2022Analysis, Featured0 comments

Quota System in South African Cricket: Pictures of Kyle Abbott, Temba Bavuma, Reeza Hendricks, and Vernon Philander (Left to Right)

The quota system in South African cricket is back in discussion among the cricketing community.

Today, we provide you the COMPLETE GUIDE to South Africa’s transformation policy and answer all your questions.

  • What is official South African cricket quota transformation policy?
  • How does South Africa’s 2022 World Cup squad line up with the quota?
  • What happened in THAT 2015 World Cup semi-final match?
  • Transformation Target Stats, Facts, and Myths
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The Temba Bavuma Question

We are talking about South African’s quota policy since Temba Bavuma, South Africa’s current T20I captain, has been in focus recently.

Things have been downhill for him since his elbow injury earlier in the year. To make matters worse, the T20I captain was not picked up for South Africa’s domestic T20 league.

In his absence, Reeza Hendricks has done a brilliant job at the top with Miller & Maharaj taking captaincy duties.

Now, calls have come for his axe on the eve of the 2022 T20 World Cup following his horrid series against India where he scored 0(4), 0(7), and 0(8) while Hendricks sat on the sidelines. Although he led South Africa courageously in the 2021 T20 World Cup and handled Quinton de Kock during tough times, an average of 23.54 with 116.49 strike rate is way below par for a modern T20 opening batter.

Although Bavuma has rightly faced criticism, there has been lots of slander and accusations that he is only in the XI to fulfill the quota. We will explore this and debunk some myths.

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Also Read: Other South African Cricket Articles

  1. Top 10 Richest Cricket Leagues (By Average Salaries). Which Cricket League Pays the Most (2022)? Can You Guess Where SA20 Ranks?
  2. Salary of Cricketers (Men’s) from Each of the 12 Nations (2022)—The Complete Guide
  3. SA20 Auction Big Takeaways: List of Players Sold, Squads, Surprises, Exclusions, and More!
  4. 49 South African Cricketers Who Left Their Country for Kolpak Deals
  5. 19 South African Born Cricketers Who Play for Other Countries: Labuschagne, Neil Wagner,…Can you Guess the Rest?
  6. Top 11 Cricketers Who Retired Too Early – The Lost Generation of Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, AB De Villiers, Hashim Amla, and Michael Clarke
  7. Faf du Plessis & AB De Villiers’ Friendship: Broken Dreams of Faf and ABD
  8. Dale Steyn, The Embodiment of Simplicity and Intensity, Retires—The Greatest Fast Bowler of Them All

Quota System in South African Cricket: The Complete Guide

*Disclaimer: I am trying to learn about this from an outsider’s point of view. Hence, this research is conducted through official documents from the South African cricket board with the hope of an unbiased analysis.

The Official Transformation Policy Definition

According to the National Pathway Selection Panels, Procedures, and Guidelines document,

“Transformation is defined as a process describing the establishment of a sport system focused on the principles of
Human capital development, equitable resource distribution, elimination of all inequalities, increased access to participation opportunities, skill and capability development at all levels and in all areas of activity, empowerment of the individual, respect for each other, fair and just behavior, innovation to give South Africa a competitive edge in world sport.”

In the SA cricket board’s 2021 Integrated Report, they further elaborate that “Transformation is about improved access, fair opportunity and support for all South Africans, within and beyond the boundaries of the cricket field.”

Key Points on Quota & Selections

The document provides an insight into how transformation targets play an part in South African cricket’s selection. Here is a brief summary with quotes from the official document. Some interesting finds.

  • “It is expected that the selection committee will play its role in ensuring that transformation is aggressively achieved at all levels without compromising the principle of selecting the best team based on current form and the pitch or game conditions.
  • “When selection between two players is debatable and neither is a clear choice (e.g. both have similar track records and ability), where relevant, preference must be given to the player of colour.
  • “In measuring our transformation progress, the panel will be measured on a season average basis rather than on a match-by-match basis.”
  • “Special attention must be given to the development and the creation of opportunities to play black African cricketers at all levels”
  • “We acknowledge that transformation ins not progressing as fast as it could.”
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South African Cricket Transformation Target: The Rules

The targets must be met as per the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) scorecard projections. By the latest transformation targets, on average about 6 players of color, including 2 black African cricketers should be in the playing XI.

Not only that, but the transformation target is also implemented all throughout South Africa’s cricketing system, from age-level groups to senior internationals.

Here is a truncated version of the projections for the men’s cricket team for the next decade.

Quota Projections

Team (Men’s)Forecast December 2022 % Black AfricanForecast December 2026% Black AfricanForecast December 2030 % Black African
Senior International Team24% 28%32%
South Africa A/Emerging/U-1927-29% 32-33%34-35%
SA School & Colts31%35%37%
U-17 National Camp31%35%37&
Team (Men’s)Forecast December 2022 % Generic BlackForecast December 2026% Generic BlackForecast December 2030 % Generic Black
Senior International Team50% 56%60%
South Africa A/Emerging/U-1950-55% 56-60%60-64%
SA School & Colts52%57%62%
U-17 National Camp52%58%62&

So, how does this work?

For South Africa’s senior men team, in 2022, 24% of the players should be Black Africans while 50% overall should be colored.

This means about 2-3 Black African players and 5-6 colored members should be in the XI, while the corresponding figures are 3-4 Black African and 7-8 colored in the squad of 15.

By 2030, the figures will rise to 32% and 60% respectively i.e. the South African XI may need to have an average of 7 colored players (3-4 Black Africans).

Interesting Observations

  1. One thing to note is that consistently in junior level cricket, the transformation target percentages are a lot higher than the international requirement. This definitely sheds a light on the focus of changing the system from the grassroots level and hoping to have an impact in the international level down the road.
  2. The SA20 has no transformation targets (this could be a cause of conflict in the future. If the homegrown South African T20 league does not have transformation requirement since it is in the franchise model, why should the other parts of SA cricket have it? This may have been a factor in no interest for Bavuma in the SA20 auction).

What Happens if Transformation Targets are not Fulfilled by South African Cricket?

According to South African cricket’s Integrated Report 2020/21, here is what happens if guidelines are not followed.

  • Risks: “Non-adherence to CSA undertakings with the Minister of Sport, Arts, and Culture on transformation in cricket can lead to a withdrawal of privileges accorded to National Federations.
  • Required Actions to Improve Performance: “Tranche payments linked to performance; CSA monitoring and evaluation to improve access and redress.”
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Quota Statistics at a Glance

To demonstrate how detailed the transformation targets are, here are the results from the 2020/21 selection report statistics.

Women’s Team

The Senior Women had an “on-field Black demographic representation of 48% against CSA target of 50%.” In particular,

Women’s TeamTarget (2018-19)Actual (2018-19)Target (2019-20)Actual (2019-20)
Black African27%26%24%20%
Black54%47%54%47%

Among the 154 selections for the women’s team, the proportions were

  • Women’s ODIs: 45 White, 22 Black African, 8 Colored, 13 Indian
  • Women’s T20Is: 35 White, 21 Black African, 4 Colored, 6 Indian

Men’s Team

The Proteas Men met their Black African player target for EPG 2020 – but did not meet is Black target.

Men’s TeamTarget (2018-19)Actual (2018-19)Target (2019-20)Actual (2019-20)
Black African25%22%22%23%
Black60%49%50%44%

South African Contracted Players

From the 16 nationally contracted players, the proportion is: 8 White, 2 Colored, 4 – Black African, 2 – Indian. 116 selections (62%) of all the 187 selections came from these contracted players. The other 71 selections (38%) came from 16 non-contracted – 10 White, 3 Colored, 3 Black African, 0 Indian. In particular,

  • Men’s Test: 29 White, 11 Black African, 4 Indian, 0 Colored
  • Men’s ODI: 18 White, 11 Black African, 3 Indian, 1 Colored
  • Men’s T20I: 59 White, 24 Black African, 17 Colored, 10 Indian

So Where Does South Africa’s 2022 T20 World Cup Squad Stand?

So let’s get back to the question at the beginning. Where does Temba Bavuma fit in this conversation?

The World Cup squad has 3 Black Africans, 8 White, and 7 Colored players.

  • Black African: Temba Bavuma, Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada
  • Colored: Reeza Hendricks, Wayne Parnell
  • Indian: Keshav Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi
  • White: Quinton de Kock, Heinrich Klassen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Rilee Rossouw, Tristan Stubbs, Marco Jansen

Can South Africa Afford to Drop Temba Bavuma?

In short, yes…if they play both Lungi Ngidi & Kagiso Rabada.

South Africa’s quota concern for the upcoming world cup is NOT Temba Bavuma. Instead, it may be how to balance the bowlers.

With Quinton de Kock-Rilee Rossouw-Aiden Markram-David Miller-Tristan Stubbs, South Africa have a very stable and explosive core of batters. Since no adjustment can be made in the middle order, SA will have to fit all their colored players in the bowling line up. For example, in the India vs South Africa ODI, they went with a bowling line up Parnell, Maharaj, Rabada, Shamsi, and Ngidi (which is all good for now since they are in decent form).

In conclusion, regardless of SA’s choice to play Bavuma or Hendricks, the quota is not impacted. However, with Parnell, Ngidi, and Rabada almost certainties, Nortje & Jansen might be in the sidelines.

None of this actually matters since the first tenet of the transformation goals is to select the best team on the day and the targets will be calculated on average at the end of the season.

Should South Africa Drop Temba Bavuma?

It is never a good sign to drop a captain on the eve of a World Cup, so Bavuma should still be in the squad for sure. However, it may still be good to give Reeza Hendricks some game time since he was in red-hot form.

It may be worth dropping Bavuma down the order and play him as an insurance policy to stem the flow of wickets in case of a collapse rather than as an opening batter.

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2015 World Cup Semi-Final, Kyle Abbott, & Vernon Philander

The quota system is South African cricket came into focus on March 24, 2015. South Africa crashed out of the World Cup due to Grant Elliot heroics.

Thriller of a game, but so near, yet so far for the Proteas yet again.

In the days to come, news came of the internal politics. Although SA had been fielding up to 5 players of color in the early matches (Amla, Duminy, Philander, Tahir, Behardien). However due to injuries, only 3 players were fielded including in the Quarter Finals, where South Africa crushed Sri Lanka by 9 wickets.

Instead of going with an unchanged XI, Vernon Philander (injured in the prior couple of games) replaced Kyle Abbott, who had a good tournament till that point. Later, it was revealed that the South African administrators called the coach/captain and interfered with the selection process.

This broke the team apart and unraveled the heights of the 2007-2015. Kyle Abbott took a Kolpak deal, while Philander retired early. Philander, himself is quoted that there are no hard feelings between him and Abbott.

“When I go to Durban, I have a beer with Kyle. There are no hard feelings between us two. But the point is: Cricket SA must sort out their stuff. What happened was a knock to both of us.”

Where Does South African Cricket Go from Here?

Kevin Pietersen’s exodus to England had already signaled for things to come due to unofficial quotas in the early days. However, South African cricket’s success had hidden the internal conflicts under the carpet.

The Khaya Zondo case revealed that several black African cricketers were picked, but only to ‘make up the numbers and carry the drinks.’ Michael Holding in his conversation with Makhaya Ntini expressed in the SJN hearings how secluded Ntini felt. Kagiso Rabada has been over bowled and not rested/rotated because he ticks the boxes and is really good.

From Faf du Plessis’ “we don’t see color,’ to AB de Villiers’ captaincy hesitations to the SJN hearings, Black Lives Matters, kneeling, etc., the matter is more complex than it seems from the outside.

Is the Transformation Quota System the way to go for South African cricket?

South Africa is not the only country to combat this issue. In the United States, Affirmative Action & India’s reservations with the Mandal Commission have similarly been implemented and received backlash at some point or time or another.

In my own analysis, I did not like treating human beings as statistics and separating them by categories. I am sure as the years go by the implementation will become less strict as equal opportunities would create more organically grown diverse players.

So, is the quota system the best way to go for South African cricket?

I’m not in the best way to answer that, but in order to reverse the prejudice of centuries of discrimination, systematic and grassroots changes are indeed needed.

What do you think about the quota system in South African cricket?

Sources and Further Reading on Quota System in South African Cricket

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Quota System in South African Cricket

What is the quota system in South African?

As of 2022, 2 players of black African ethnicity and 6 colored players need to be fielded in the XI (on average).

© Copyright @Nitesh Mathur and Broken Cricket Dreams, 2021. Originally published on 10/07/2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Broken Cricket Dreams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content (i.e. linked to the exact post/article).

About Nitesh Mathur
I dreamt of being a No. 3 batsman saving test matches and hitting winning runs. Well, that did not exactly go to plan, but I have since become an avid follower of the game. As long as there is a live cricket, you can guarantee that I will be checking the scorecards, watching the game live on TV, and certainly, discussing the game and statistics with family and friends.

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