Cricket South Africa approves Highveld Lions' request to bend quota rules
In what is seen as a significant development, Cricket South Africa relaxed the quota system and accepted Highveld Lions' plea of bringing a white batsman in place of the injured black player. ESPNCricinfo revealed that the South African board were forced to consider relaxing the rather rigid quota situation which stipulated that every domestic team had to field 6 colored cricketers of which three must be black Africans in the playing eleven.
The problem was a consequence of leg-spinner Eddie Leie’s injury during the pre-match warm-ups of the encounter between Lions and Titans in Centurion. Since the Lions had arrived at the venue with only 12 squad members, there was no other choice but to include Rassie van der Dussen for the contest.
Due to the unforeseen circumstances, the team management had to seek permission from Cricket South Africa just before the match started. A Lions spokesperson claimed, “"We cleared it with all the relevant CSA officials and they had full understanding for the situation.”
In the event of the South African board not granting permission to bend the rules, Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana who is a black African could have conceivably taken the field. Toyana had not featured in a competitive fixture since 2011 when he retired with over 150 matches in both formats for his domestic team.
However, fate once again intervened as Toyana took the field as seamer Carmi le Roux had to leave the proceedings due to a torn hamstring. The coach could head back to the dressing room only after the Lions somehow managed to bring in a spectator to take his place.
William Wentzel, a student of the Pretoria Sports School of Excellence was enjoying the match with his friends on the banks when he summoned to participate in the action. Promptly, the white Wentzel ran out wearing Leie’s kit proving that sport saw no boundaries.
Fortunately for the Lions, the match was abandoned after persistent rain meant that only one innings could be completed. In pursuit of the Duckworth-Lewis adjusted target of 255 from 35 overs, Lions reached 74/1 before the heavens opened up bringing the eventful tussle to an end.
This is not the first time that the controversial quota system came under the spotlight in South Africa. Maybe, it is time, that Cricket South Africa set a strong precedent by revoking the rules and allowed their domestic teams to select their best players irrespective of their color.