Anger towards returning Kolpak Proteas players must ceasePatrick Slater |
For the first time in many, many moons, South Africa look like an international cricket side that has the capability of winning home and away. It has been a long road to get here, but, finally, the Proteas have a squad that looks to be on paper one of the strongest of any country currently. This was evident during an impressive home series win against India in which the South Africans were able to triumph in both the Test and ODI arena.
Essentially, what those wins did was restore the feel-good factor to South African cricket and give the side a mentality that they had long been missing; the belief that they were capable of beating teams higher up the rankings than them.
🗣 “That’s it! History has been made!”— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) January 6, 2022
What a moment for South African cricket 🇿🇦
They defeat India in the second Test – the first time they have ever beaten them in a Test at the bullring – winning by 7️⃣ wickets 🏏
📺 #SAvsIND reaction coming up on Sky Sports Cricket pic.twitter.com/Ca639bcJEc
With this in mind, you could argue that the only people that are capable of stopping the South Africans over the next few years are indeed themselves. Astonishingly, this is an idea that the country is flirting with and is the reason why the latest cricket odds for the upcoming 2022 season won’t always show the Proteas to be the favourites in the games they play. In short, that is down to the potential civil war that may engulf Cricket South Africa if strong leadership doesn’t prevail.
It may sound like a strange thing to hear but the truth is that the governing body of South African cricket has long made a rod for its own back by letting in-house fighting disrupt the team environment. The issue the hierarchy and indeed nation are facing now centres around the returning of Kolpak players who previously, had given up the chance to play for South Africa by signing agreements with county sides in England.
However, these players are once again eligible to play for South Africa given that a loophole in the ruling regarding work permits, was now, in effect, closed.
This should have been seen as a huge boost for the country, but there are those in the Rainbow Nation who harbour feelings of resentment towards these players given that they take exception to the fact that they supposedly turned their backs on South Africa. In some respects, it is an understandable way to feel with the bottom line being that Kolpak agreements have always been a contentious issue in South Africa.
But one needs to keep in mind that a sports person’s career is a short one and the need to make enough money before the end of it is a pressing matter that weighs heavy on the mind of professional athletes.
In this sense, South Africans who feel anger towards these returning players should imagine they were in the same position and see if that softens the uncompromising views that are currently doing the rounds. If not, then fans of the Proteas need to look to the example that fellow countryman Nelson Mandela set when he encouraged peace and reconciliation during times of great upset that threatened to divide.
Ultimately, this was an attitude that was adopted and because citizens of the Rainbow Nation followed Madiba’s vision, South Africa ended up thriving during his presidency. The anger towards these players needs to end and if it does, the Proteas will climb to the summit of world cricket once more.