University team forced to field only 10 players for not meeting transformational requirements

South African university side NMMU Madibaz were forced to field only 10 players in a league game after they failed to meet the transformational requirements for the national tournament.

The match took place between Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Madibaz (NMMU) and North Western University Pukke (NWU) on February 2 – their final league game of the Varsity Sports cricket tournament. Incredibly, the regulations of the competition forced the team to play one short during the latter’s run-chase!

Here’s a clip of the toss:

Skipper Lloyd Brown is seen explaining to the interviewer his choice of electing to bat was based on ‘two circumstances’ outside his control. On probing further, Brown reveals that the Varsity Sports rules have forced them to field only 10 players with the second being the wet outfield conditions. On being asked who the players that are not featuring are, the captain lists out two names  – left-hand batsman Edward Moore and fast bowler Lutho Sipamla. Both players were representing their provincial side Warriors in the Momentum One Day Cup final against the Dolphins.

Furthermore, one of the players – Solomzi Nqweni suffered an ankle injury the day before the final league game. With no other coloured player available in the squad to comply with the quota regulations, Madibaz were forced to play the injured 24-year-old in order to complete an XI.

Here’s the Madibaz batting card:

Madibaz batting scorecard

Here’s the bowling card in the second innings:

Madibaz bowling scorecard

As you can see, the all-rounder was effectively in the game for just one delivery – when he was dismissed off the first ball. He did not bowl in the run-chase.

The NMMU side suffered a five-wicket loss, whereas NWU reached the final but lost out to the Assupol Tuks the following day.

Varsity Sports involves universities competing against each other in various sporting events – athletics, hockey, cricket, football, rugby sevens, netball and choral singing. The competition has provided a platform for young budding cricketers to showcase their talent, especially considering that the games are broadcast on national television.

Two of them are present in the current South African national side – Lungisani Ngidi and Aiden Markram. The duo represented University of Pretoria side – Assupol Tuks in 2015 and went on to win the tournament under Markram’s captaincy.

However, an incident like this reflects poorly on the competition and the quota system.

What’s even more surprising is the lack of coverage of the occurrence. There have been two mentions on Twitter regarding the incident and one on Facebook (the clip above). Former Zimbabwe seamer Mpumelelo Mbangwa also enquired what happened in the Twitter thread.

A similar non-compliance with quota regulations resulted in four schools being banned by Cricket South Africa (KSA) – The High School of Waterkloof, Menlo Park, Centurion and Afrikaans High School (Affies) from playing in the national T20 school tournament. *This was reported by Beeld on February 3.

*Here’s an excerpt from Beeld’s report (after translation).

KSA announced before the 2017 / ’18 season that schools wanting to compete must have two players of color during the regional competitions in the run-up to the national T20 tournament. If teams pass through to the final in March in Pretoria, where the six franchises are each represented by the winner of the respective regional competitions, they must have four players of color. Two of these players must be on the field at all times.

Waterkloof, Centurion, Menlo Park and Affies would have participated in the quarter-finals of Northern region’s regional competition on Friday night. However, they were told by Northerners on Tuesday that KSA’s transformation policy is in force and that they can not qualify for the national T20 tournament.

Quota

The national side also has to comply by these regulations. The new racial quotas, which have been implemented for over a year now, make it compulsory for the national side to field at least six players of colour out of eleven, of which at least two should be ‘black African’. The targets are not imposed on every playing XI, but it is calculated on an average basis over the season.

These regulations are prevalent throughout the structure of the game in South Africa. While providing equal opportunity to all should be a priority, no flexibility in regulations has led to teams not competing at maximum potential and children from four schools missing out on a national level tournament. Such incidents are counter-productive to the growth of the game.

It is unlikely that the conundrum faced by budding cricketers is unknown to Cricket South Africa officials; and this seems to be a regular occurrence. Especially, when a skipper says on national television that his team can field only 10 players ‘again’.

 

(Akhil Nair is the sub-editor at The Ring Side View. You can follow him on Facebook Here and on Twitter @akhiln)

 

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