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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
SA make U-turn on quotas
Justin Ontong
Ontong supported the scrapping of quotas
South Africa have announced a commitment to a minimum of five black players in their squad for the World Cup, apparently reversing the decision to abandon quotas at international level.

A meeting between government and cricket officials in Centurion, outside Pretoria, was convened at the request of Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour on Wednesday.

It followed the United Cricket Board's (UCB) decision three days earlier to scrap its racial quota system for provincial and national teams involving a mandatory four black players.


If you're not good enough to play, bad luck
Justin Ontong
The youth league of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) had threatened to disrupt the World Cup if quotas were not maintained.

A lengthy statement from the UCB following the meeting 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."

Five black players were on Monday named in an 18-man provisional squad for August's triangular tournament in Morocco, thought to be a pointer to World Cup plans.

But just 14 players can be selected for the World Cup, which begins in Cape Town on 9 February.

UCB president Percy Sonn declined to clarify whether the announcement meant the board had backed down on its decision to drop quotas.

"We are not backing down and we are not backing up," he said.

Ironically, black international players had earlier voiced their support for Sunday's decision.

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 said. "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," he went on.

"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 11 and that the best available 11 is playing."

See also:

09 Jul 02 | Cricket
08 Jul 02 | Cricket
08 Jul 02 | Cricket
07 Dec 01 | Australia v South Africa
07 Dec 00 | Cricket
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