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Cricket ghosts: The South African team of 1982 could only play unofficial Test matches against a rebel English touring squad 

South Africa's cricketers have just replaced England at the top of the International Cricket Council world Test rankings. Their fans are in no way surprised that their team is doing so well; the real question is how it compares with the great side of 1970 which beat the Australians 4-0. That team had such supreme all-rounders as Eddie Barlow and Mike Procter, not to mention Denis Lindsay, the best wicket-keeper-batsman in the world, but probably what settles it is that the 1970 team had, in Barry Richards and Graeme Pollock, two batsmen almost in the Bradman class. There was no doubt that the team were the world champions of their day — yet they were soon thereafter excluded from Test cricket until after the abolition of apartheid, in 1992.

The South African Test cricketers of that era — and only whites could be considered for the team — were often deeply unhappy about segregated cricket. They wanted to play India and Pakistan and they enormously admired the great West Indies teams of the time. Men like Trevor Goddard — an opening bat and seam bowler, one of the greatest all-rounders of the day — quite publicly made clear their wish to play multiracial cricket, while Clive van Ryneveld, who captained South Africa in their drawn series against Peter May's MCC touring side in 1956-57, became an MP for Helen Suzman's Progressive Party, dedicated to the abolition of racial discrimination, and publicly urged the case for a South Africa cricket team selected on merit. (There was pointed comment in the press about the fact that no Springbok rugby players followed suit.) Naturally, many great players such as Richards and Procter played English county cricket with all races: Richards, indeed, was famous for his opening partnerships for Hampshire with two West Indians, Roy Marshall and Gordon Greenidge. In each case this was the most potent opening partnership in the world.

"None of those men got any credit for their stand against apartheid," says Ray White, formerly President of the United Cricket Board of SA, the sport's governing body. "Many of them have since fallen on evil times. Poor old Neil Adcock, once the world's fastest bowler, was recently ejected from hospital (he has cancer) because he couldn't pay the bills. Remember that they were all amateurs and usually only had humble jobs to return to. In addition, some were bad at handling money. Sportsmen are often naive. They don't know much about either politics or money. Someone like Barry [Richards] was always careful and shrewd but his team-mate, Eddie [Barlow], was far more typical, dying in penury. There have even been some suicides. But the most unfair thing is the way that Cricket South Africa under Gerald Majola showed real spite towards them." (Gerald Majola, the first black head of CSA, has now been suspended for awarding himself large unauthorised bonuses and spending substantial amounts of cricket money to fly his family around the world. His suspension came after all its major sponsors refused to continue to support the national team until the Majola affair was cleared up.)

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July 28th, 2015
12:07 PM
Really enjoyed reading this. I'm just astounded by the hatred shown against anyone that was not African Black. Here I'm thinking about how they treated even Basil D'Oliveira. Another factual error, though not central to the story. It's not Roy Marshall, supposedly one of the West Indians who Barry Richards played with. It is Roy Fredericks who opened with Gordon Greenidge in those days.

January 14th, 2014
7:01 AM
How is this much different from Australia turning its back on Don Bradman? Political climate surrounding it notwithstanding ... SA has almost peerless cricketers like Graeme Pollock and the magnificent Barry Richards - players, who, anywhere else in the cricketing world, would be treated as national heroes & cricketing treasures throughout the ages!! It is often said that you do not miss something until it is gone - well, once common sense starts to reign in that country's cricketing administration, perhaps that sentiment might be understood - I only hope it is not too late. It smacks of extreme reversal of form this ... trading one form of racism - one that the WHITE cricketers of the day protested against as well - for another. Fancy swapping reconciliation and recognition, with revenge. What a great start, ironically, to the first coloured cricket administrator in that position. Doesn't send a very positive message to the world, does it? In fact, it has worked in the opposite direction.

Andrew Dalrymple
October 2nd, 2012
8:10 AM
@Erica Would you prefer that there should there be a ratio or perhaps even a 'quote quota'? Or would the irony thereof be too much even for you? I think perhaps that you may have missed the point of the piece...

September 12th, 2012
9:09 AM
One of my forebears was Arthur Kinnaird - Lord Kinnaird, known as the first Lord of Football. He not only organised and played in the first soccer international, Scotland v England, but also won 6 FA cup medals, a number only recently surpassed by Ashley Cole who now has seven. Of course when Arthur was plying his trade - in his spare time he also founded Ransome's Bank that became a core component of Barclays, it was only arguably Toffs who had the time and energy (and the necessary balanced diet) to both organise and partake in such frivolous pastimes as soccer. The poor being effectively side-lined and then lacking in opportunity. Yet were it not for the likes of Arthur, would soccer have ever properly got itself started, and would the likes of Ashley Cole ever have had a platform upon which to shine? It all starts somewhere; today's giants of any game stand on the shoulder's of giants who went before. I don't think anyone could argue that Arthur was not a giant, and being lucky enough to grow up close to the county ground in Southampton, and having thrilled to the sights of Barry Richards, Roy Marshall, Gordon Greenidge et al, I know they too were giants, who likewise should be revered the World over; is my mind playing tricks or did I really see Barry Richards score 300 in a single day for the DB Close X1 against a touring team at Scarborough? A voice of reason from the southern tip of the Dark continent

September 12th, 2012
8:09 AM
It is not just cricket, but much of the other analysis of events in South Africa, and indeed the wider world, where reason, debate and progress itself is held back by didactic PC thinking. I wonder what generations to come will make of our clumsy interpretations of events, causality and blame? But then it has been the case for eons that it takes time for a rational, balanced view of history to be achieved. In the case of South Africa the question is will much of import be left standing by the time this voice of reason prevails? A voice of reason from the southern tip of the Dark continent

Nick Watt-Pringle
September 10th, 2012
12:09 PM
Very interesting article. One way of keeping records of players who played for SA, pre 1992. is to have their number then a forward slash and post Apartheid cricketers number on their shirt/cap etc. In 50 to 100 years from now no one will give a damm anyway. example (146/24) One cannot change history, only the future will benefit from what has happened in past. It is similar to some past atrocities in the world, you can never change it but one must have it recorded for futre generations to understand the past mistakes of this world. Enough of my soap box. I would like to check the stats on Headley and Sutcliffe.

September 7th, 2012
8:09 AM
A fine piece of journalism and an excellent article. One factual error, which doesn't undo the point being made but is disappointing as it's an error that could have easily been avoided. There are two other players who have Test batting averages over 60 and meet the innings criteria you have to use to have Pollock as eligible. George Headley from the West Indies and Herb Sutcliffe from England.

Erica Blair
September 1st, 2012
7:09 PM
Marvellous. An article about South Africa which doesn't quote a single black person. is this supposed to be deliberately ironic?

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