South Africa cricket still does not represent the nation

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It is fair to say South Africa have had a complicated past with much division across racial lines.

The Apartheid regime's racist policies contributed to South Africa's isolation from world in various ways, including competing in international sport form 1971 to 1991.

In the new democratic and free South Africa these racist policies are a thing of the past, but they have largely failed to produce a representative national cricket team, here's a look at why.

National Demographics

To understand why representation is important in this country one simple statistic is needed, according to the 2011 Census 79 percent of the South African population is black African.

Naturally after years of oppression and finally creating a free society the racial composition of a national sports team should represent this demographic as it is in other sporting codes like football and athletics.

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But, to see why this is not true in cricket, we must further delve into who creates these star cricketers and there we find the reason for this problem

Affluent Schools Dominate

An article from late 2014 compiled a list of the schools who produced the most Test caps for the Proteas, with this topped by tDurban High School, Bishops Rondebosch and King Edward VII School with 57 Proteas between them.

For a non-South African this isn't anything strange, however, the fact is this list is almost wholly comprised of some the most affluent and expensive schools in Africa.

The 2011 Census showed the average annual earnings of a black African headed home was ±£3400; the top five schools on the least cost between 20-60 percent of this figure annually.

Simply put, even with the limited scholarship and financial aid opportunities, many children of colour could never afford to attend any of these prestigious schools and have a chance of wearing the green and gold.

Quotas of Race Flawed

Quotas are a much debated issue in South Africa and in principle they should work, but the problem is at youth level there simply aren't enough youngsters of colour making the grade at provincial and academy level because they haven't the access to the vast resources of the richer schools.

Picking players of colour solely on race just to fill up a quota standards only dilutes the quality of the player pool, the Kevin Pietersen story is a reality for many youngsters here. We need to force schools and academies to support and create stars from underprivileged backgrounds.

The great Makhaya Ntini was found by scouts and given the opportunity of an education at Dale College, a school with a rich cricket history. But giving public schools the funds and infrastructure to compete with affluent schools is a dream many decades from fulfilment.

For now increasing financial aid and scouting for youngsters in under privileged circumstances can grow the pool of talented players of colour. Hopefully one day we will never argue about race and only runs and wickets will get a player his first cap.

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