WC 2003 - Sonn defends record colour players in WC squad

Published: Sunday, December 29, 2002, 23:18 [IST]
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Durban: South Africa selected a record five players of colour in its 15-man squad for next year's cricket World Cup, a move defended on Sunday by Percy Sonn, president of the United Cricket Board of South Africa."I think we've chosen the best 15," said Sonn after the squad was announced at Kingsmead.There were no surprises in the final selection, given that the UCB gave a commitment to the South African government four years ago that at least five players of colour would play in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.What Sonn described as a "paradigm" influenced the balance of the side, with the selectors choosing what amounted to a "first XI" which included only two black players, Herschelle Gibbs and Makhaya Ntini.It meant that three black players had to fill the four "back-up" places in the squad.The selectors opted for two pace bowlers, Monde Zondeki and Charl Langeveldt, and spin bowling all-rounder Robin Peterson, together with white all-rounder Andrew Hall.It meant there was no room in the squad for capable white players such as opening batsman Graeme Smith, who played in 15 of South Africa's 21 Limited Overs Internationals in the current season, middle-order batsman Neil McKenzie or seam bowler Steve Elworthy.Sonn said he was confident, however, that the UCB had complied with a contractual obligation to the International Cricket Council to select the "best players available at the time".The commitment to pick five players of colour was made by Ali Bacher, the then managing director of the UCB, to the late Sports Minister Steve Tshwete in 1998 when the Board was under pressure to pick a meaningful number of black players for the 1999 World Cup in England.Only two were picked, Gibbs and Ntini, but Ntini was withdrawn after a rape conviction, which was later overturned on appeal.Bacher told Tshwete that there were not enough players of colour ready to play at international level at the time but promised at least five would be picked on merit by 2003.Sonn said, "That was a commitment made long ago. We gave a paradigm to the selectors early on. We followed a process and it seems to have worked. The selectors built these people up and they were given opportunities as we went along. Some people were given opportunities but didn't take them."The team, to be led by Shaun Pollock, is packed with all-rounders.Fast bowler Allan Donald and batsman-fielder Jonty Rhodes will be playing in their fourth World Cups, having played in all three in which South Africa have participated since 1992.Pollock, Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis will be playing in their third tournament, while Mark Boucher, Nicky Boje, Herschelle Gibbs and Lance Klusener played in the 1999 World Cup.Squad: Shaun Pollock (captain), Mark Boucher (vice-captain), Nicky Boje, Boeta Dippenaar, Allan Donald, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis, Gary Kirsten, Lance Klusener, Charl Langeveldt, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Jonty Rhodes and Monde Zondeki.Coach, Eric Simons. Assistant coach Corrie van Zyl.
Copyright AFP 2001

SA sticks to tried and trusted, announces WC squad
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