Catherine McGregor is a Sky News commentator and host of The McGregor Angle who has written two books on cricket and played men’s and women’s cricket over the past 50 years.
Temba Bavuma has been here before. Its small frame supported the weight of the South
The history of racial oppression in Africa before. Maybe it’s a burden that neither he nor his
nation will abandon itself forever and enter an era of harmonious cohesion. Predictions
are loaded. But Nelson Mandela was jailed, released, and died in my lifetime. If only
game offers hope, so surely it is cricket.
Watch all the action from the ICC T20 World Cup live and exclusively on Fox Cricket, available on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial today.
Without colonialism, it would be a
aberrant English pastime, perhaps as dominated by Etonians as the Household Cavalry is.
Our national obsession is said to be Australian football. Yet it’s a global game, loved
nowhere with a passion to match that of the Indian subcontinent. Today India is at cricket
hegemon. Lord’s may remain the sentimental hotbed of cricket, but the center of the game
gravity has shifted to India. Money doesn’t talk, it screams.
“HOW RACIST SHOULD YOU BE?”: Australian TV host criticizes Kock
“MESS ORCHESTÃ”: the world of cricket stunned by De Kock’s debacle
FIVE CHAOTIC HOURS ROCQUÃ SA … a man kept them from collapsing
Pakistan has beaten India in recent days. Pakistan was born out of sectarian bloodshed and
religious persecution. India’s decisive victory over Pakistan in a war in 1971 created the
nation of Bangladesh, which also participates in the current World Cup. Politics and sport
to mix together. Inextricably. Indeed, during the Australian summer of 1971, a World XI was on tour
Australia. While their countries were at war, Indian and Pakistani players shared a band-aid
room. This is the majesty of gaming at its best. Moreover, who assembled in a hurry
World XI was only there because the tour offered by South Africa was canceled by
the Australian Cricket Board. During the winter, the Springboks rugby tour was
disrupted by large demonstrations at each Test Match. No one has ever accused the late Sir Donald
Bradman of the current crime of awakening.
But Bradman recognized the tectonic shift in world politics. Extraordinary talent was
never fully realized as South Africa has become an international pariah. Barry Richards played
but four Tests. Ian Chappell told me that – along with his brother Greg- Richards was the
most impeccable drummer he has ever seen. Perspective is however required in such a
Questions. Richards’ genius remains an imponderable. But how important is this loss
compared to millions of humans deprived of their basic dignity because of the color of their skin?
Which brings me back to Bavuma. While England toured South Africa in 2015-16 a
a woman named Penny Stewart tweeted that black South Africans should be banned from
surf beaches. In no time, an economist at a major bank tweeted in favor of Stewart
invoking a disgusting insult of “apes” in reference to the overwhelming native population
population. In the ensuing firestorm, two cricketers marched.
Hashim Amla and Temba
Bavuma. Amla was the first non-white to captain South Africa and Bavuma his first
native test drummer. Ideally, one of England’s former colonial powers fulfilled
the role of villain as the couple exorcised at least some of the demons of apartheid. The game
himself was hardly memorable running out to a coin toss. However, not until Amla scored a
double century and Bavuma its first test ton. As English cricket writer Scyld Berry asked
rhetorically, amid a predictable social media storm and unresolved flames igniting
racial tensions in South Africa, how to quantify the social utility of such a round?
A man of color, whose distaste for colonialism rivaled his reluctant taste for
the game exported the colonizer, wrote the best book ever written on cricket. CLR
James was a Marxist born in Trinidad. If I had had a dollar for every time I read or
relied on his quote: “What do they know about cricket that only cricket knows?” I would buy my
own Indian Premier League franchise. Sport and politics? As inextricably linked as art and
politics or poetry and politics. And finally, politics is about power. Who decides ? Of which
version of the past prevails? Who sets the standards, who in this era of exorcisms on social networks
are as binding as any law passed by a legislature?
I am not a person of color. I can’t imagine what wounds were reopened by the
death of George Floyd. I am, however, a transsexual and I have an idea of ââwhat that feels like
likes not to feel part of the main thing. I also knelt to queer ideology then I rebelled
against him because his intolerant coercive aspects repelled me more than Christian’s vitriol
fundamentalists. So when I see Quinton de Kock refusing to physically kneel, I have to confess
to be torn apart. I have read a dear friend, Firdose Moonda, expressing his personal hurt to
Kock’s stand. She is a woman of grace, whose love of cricket is matched only by her passion for her
complex nation, always seeking to redeem itself from a system of oppression that must always be
qualified as a serious attack on human dignity. The West as a whole has taken too long to demand that
apartheid be dismantled root and branch. Due to its pivotal geostrategic location
during the Cold War, liberal democracies winked at this odious regime while knowing
that it violated all the principles of Christianity and the very values ââadopted in the
fight against the Soviet Union.
For his part, Bavuma was once again called upon to sort out a situation which was not his fault. He owns
expressed “respect” for de Kock’s decision. From Kock we are told he will provide an explanation
in the coming days. Perhaps the Cricket South Africa Board could have better imitated the
thanks to her skipper and the slowness of de Kock’s deliberation. The strange spectacle of some players
on their knees, while others stood with their fists clenched and de Kock clasped his hands behind his back
ahead of their game against Australia was clearly an affront to administrative instinct. This
was a mess. It lacked the uniformity so coveted by bureaucratic instinct. Obedience.
Order. Hence a hasty directive. Take the knee. You all. He tore the team apart and
reverberate throughout cricket worldwide. Amid the clamor I’d like to hear what from Kock
has to say. It is possible to refuse to participate in such a gesture for reasons of conscience.
In this controversy, I see parallels with Israel Folau’s expulsion from rugby.
Despite the fact that I presumably remain an abomination to him, I was extremely
uneasy at the public excoriation and persecution of Folau. I never doubted that his
opinions were expressed with deep conviction. He expressed them with less venom and morality
that those who sought its destruction of the security of Twitter feeds with ostentatious
scrolling through their favorite pronouns. Cricket has endured wars and terrorist attacks. It will be
Bavuma’s exploits on the ground have done more to unify South Africa than any gesture
middle. Like a Muslim representing India, his very presence constitutes a triumph
of talent and human dignity unvarnished by conflicts and factions. So far he exposes
more diplomatic aplomb than his Council. Should De Kock be humiliated and coerced into
kneeling against the precepts of his conscience, what will happen? It’s not a dime
The Stewart moment. It’s an Israel Folau moment. Maybe the South African Council should
follow the example of the skipper whose words have recognized that de Kock is a
To be human. The statute has so long denied the ancestors of Bavuma. Give the players time. May be
a consensus will emerge from the locker room. England did not kneel in front of Amla and
Bavuma in January 2016. They shook hands and celebrated with them, knowing that they
had been part of a watershed moment in cricket and South African race relations. As
Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a bus, such moments flow from the dignity of
the human mind. The history and the undefinable stirred dignity of a person who stands up against
the crowd arrives at an accidental confluence. They cannot be invoked by administrators
sporting the day pin. And in the elusive spirit of cricket is built on individuality. He is
a solitary game although it masquerades as a team sport. His ultimate moment is a player
against eleven. Horace at the bridge. For now, only time will tell if Kock or
Bavuma will become the heroic figure