Mark Keohane, writing for IOL Sport
If South Africa’s greatest cricketer Jacques Kallis really wanted to be involved with the Proteas, he’d be on his way to Pakistan this month. Instead he is in Sri Lanka as England’s batting consultant.
Kallis, in media interviews this week, claimed he was not working with the Proteas because he is white and the colour of his skin prohibited any consultancy or contract opportunities within the South African national team.
What absolute trash.
Kallis’s skin colour never has been held against him in the country of his birth during his schooling and professional career. His skin colour has only ever aided his sporting and professional career.
Kallis, a product of Wynberg Boys High in Cape Town’s southern suburbs, was afforded every opportunity as a player, through the schools and professional ranks. He delivered on his natural talent in the most emphatic way by scoring 13 829 Test runs, 11 579 ODI runs, 292 Test wickets and 273 ODI wickets. He also took over 300 international catches.
Statistically, no cricketer in the history of the game matches his all-round numbers.
Kallis, the cricketer, is a name that must be spoken of with awe. He did it all and there wasn’t a bigger South African batting influence and presence during his 166 Test career.
But when Kallis claims he is too white to be a part of the Proteas coaching set-up because white consultants are not allowed to be employed, he is being disingenuous
Firstly, his big mate Mark Boucher is the head coach. Boucher is white. Former Proteas top order batsman Neil McKenzie is the batting coach. He is also white.
Cricket South Africa did in the latter part of 2020 commit to a hiring policy that favoured black consultancy appointments but it did not prohibit the appointment of whites.
‘I wasn’t allowed to be involved (with the Proteas) because Cricket South Africa said there would be no more white consultants, so unfortunately that fell away,’ Kallis told the English media.
That is incorrect.
Kallis’s credentials are without comparison. If Boucher wanted him and he wanted to be with the Proteas, any consulting role would be his. If not, it would be about a lack of appetite for the gig or an undesirable financial offer. It would have nothing to do with Kallis’s skill set or skin colour.
Kallis also said he understood Cricket South Africa’s policy.
‘I suppose it is the way of our country – a lot of players have fallen away because of needing people of colour involved.’
That statement alone shows Kallis doesn’t understand the situation.
Firstly, there is no Cricket South Africa policy on white consultants, but more importantly transformation has never been about punishing supposedly superior white players and rewarding supposedly inferior black players.
Transformation has always been about creating opportunities for black players and coaches when, historically, these opportunities were exclusive to whites.
Kallis, as SA Cricket Magazine’s editorial pointed out, could have applied for a position when his Proteas short-term contract expired in March 2020. He didn’t.
The England opportunity presented itself and Kallis said yes.
There is no crime in this. It is commonplace in professional sport, especially cricket, for the appointment of foreigners as head coaches and consultants in so many different international teams.
South Africa’s Gary Kirsten coached India to ODI World Cup glory and former Proteas coach Mickey Arthur coaches Sri Lanka and previously coached Australia and Pakistan. South Africa’s legendary fast bowler Allan Donald has had consulting and coaching stints with New Zealand and England.
No one would and should ever begrudge Kallis any opportunity outside of South Africa, but to say he chose England because he was ‘blocked’ from working with the Proteas (even informally) because he was white is a distortion and simply wrong.