‘Will never pick player based on colour’, insists Linda Zondi

Johannesburg [South Africa], Nov. 30 : Linda Zondi, South Africa convener of selectors, has asserted that he would "never" pick a player based on the colour of his skin but on the basis of merit only.

"For me, as a convener, I will never pick a player based on colour," he was quoted as saying by Sport24.

"I will pick a player based on his ability to represent our country. I will never accept mediocrity." "The country wants us to do well and to transform and to win matches ..I'm very happy with the talent that we have and we just want to maintain the high standards we have when picking players," he added.

According to the Proteas convener of selectors, the domestic structures in the country are succeeding in widening the pool of black cricketers who are being given opportunities to grow.

Cricket South Africa (CSA), ahead of the 2014/15 domestic season in the country, had already ruled out that each franchise would have to field five players of colour (two black Africans) in every match they played across all formats throughout the season.

In the upcoming season, i.e. 2015/16, this number was increased to six players of colour (three black Africans) Reflecting on the same, Zondi said they have been drawing a lot of flak before in terms of people criticising their franchise system and transformation.

"We backed the system and the players that we had and fortunately we had some world class players. It became a natural thing," he said. The cricket board has also decided that the players would not be measured on a match-to-match basis, but rather on an annual average across all three formats.

Speaking about the advantage of the rule, the 40-year-old said, "The board has been very strategic in terms of giving us an annual target and not a match-to-match target, which gives us more room when selecting players." "It's important to know that ..just because the team is losing, it shouldn't be about transformation. And if the team is winning, it also shouldn't be about an individual," he added. Zondi further insisted that they are not looking at colour, but at the player. These comments come in the wake of the political pressure which is there on South Africa's national sporting teams, and has now reached a new level ever since sports minister Fikile Mbalula banned CSA, SA Rugby, Athletics South Africa (ASA) and Netball South Africa (NSA) from bidding for major events back in April due to a lack of transformation.

The South Africa national rugby union team, commonly known as the Springboks, have been given the target of ensuring that their squad is made up of 50 percent players of colour by the 2019 World Cup, while the Proteas committed to ensuring that 53 percent of their side (six players) will be players of colour moving forward.

Source: ANI