South African cricket board recalled India’s role to help them to return to international cricket after nearly four decades of international isolation. At a glittering silver jubilee event of nonracial cricket in the country, Cricket South Africa recounted the story.
CSA in a video message as dancers performed to the music of AR Rahman’s Oscar-winning song “Jai Ho” said, “They welcomed us back with open arms.”
CSA said late Clive Rice had led South Africa to the historic tour to India, CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat read a moving message from the late captain’s window.
Former South African cricket association head Dr. Ali Bacher recalled how the different cricket boards had been racially divided under apartheid had come to start developing the sport.
For the first time, people had an equal chance to represent their country at international level,” Bacher said.
“Until then, South Africa could only play against Australia, New Zealand, and England. Now, for the very first time, India, West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka made sky the limit and the future for South African cricket was awesome,” Bacher added.
Former South African cricketer and current coach Vincent Barnes said how his white colleagues granted a special leave to play for South Africa while he and other Balck players were refused such leave of absence.
“With no facilities, our kids learnt to play on the streets with makeshift wickets, which is when I decided that I could make a significant difference by giving other youngsters the opportunity that I never had through coaching,” Barnes said, adding that he had to go overseas to qualify as a coach.
The current South Africa captain AB de Villiers said he was only an eight-year-old toddler when the ramification of cricket happened in South Africa following the release of Nelson Mandela.
CSA President Chris Nenzani said the signing of the treaty between the different cricket unions was designed to make cricket a tool for nation building.
“There are only about 4,000 schools out of about 30,000 (in the country) that have cricketing facilities that can be described as adequate, which gives us a sense of the enormity of the task that lies ahead of us.
“Our national team must be a team that represents all in our country that inspires all of our people,” Nenzani concluded.