Modern society is slowly turning out to be one in which victimhood is awarded more than merit. Signs of this have started to show. South Africa is giving a victimhood status to Thami Tsolekile who was ousted due to bad performance and later his involvement in match-fixing.
SJN tribunal criticizes Graeme Smith for not selecting Thami Tsolekile:
A report produced by Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) tribunal seems to be an attempt to excuse Tsolekile for his wrongdoings. The tribunal suggests that Tsolekile’s failed career owe mainly to alleged anti-Black racism by the South African Cricketing fraternity. The report says, “It is hard to exclude Mr. Tsolekile’s race as having been the main reason why he did not succeed in the Proteas,”
Castigating former captain Graeme Smith for selecting his team based on the individual merit of players, the report says, “CSA, Mr. Graeme Smith and some selectors at the time really failed Mr. Tsolekile and many black players of his time in many ways.”
Tsolekile was touted as a replacement for Boucher:
In 2012, Mark Boucher had to announce his retirement due to an unfortunate eye injury. After nearly two decades, South Africa’s wicket-keeping slot was open for merit-based selection. Thami Tsolekile, captain of Cape Cobras was touted as Boucher’s replacement by many. Since, other than being an excellent wicketkeeper, Boucher was also a handy batsman; it became a headache for selectors to choose his replacement.
Tsolekile, no doubt was the first choice wicketkeeper available in the country, but his batting placed him in the league of tail-enders. At the time when big hitters like MS Dhoni, Brad Haddin, and Craig Kieswetter were dominating competitors eleven, it made no sense to fit in a wicketkeeper who averages less than 30. So, the selectors decided to go for an alternative.
AB De Villiers and later De Kock became more natural choices than Thami:
AB De Villiers was in red hot form as a batsman. Moreover, he was the most gun-fielder and had also kept wickets for the team in the past. His flexibility, strengths and chutzpah made him an excellent candidate for a permanent wicketkeeper.
Naturally, De Villiers was preferred over Tsolekile and handed over wicket-keeping responsibilities. Later De Villiers did not disappoint the selectors and turned out to be an eye-catchy wicketkeeper before Quinton De Kock emerged onto the scene.
Read more: The mad scientist that was AB de Villiers
As De Villiers started to feel the negatives of his workload, a mini hunt for a new wicketkeeper was started by the board. In 2014, Quinton De Kock burst onto the scene with a flurry of hundreds for his national team. This ended any hope of Tsolekile being appointed as a wicketkeeper of the South African cricket team.
Tsolekile-A match-fixer who was an incompetent batsman:
Tsolekile on the other hand remained at the periphery of the national team. Stupendous performances by De Villiers and De Kock along with increasing age proved to be a dampener for his national ambitions and he could never make a comeback.
Bad performance was not the only reason for Tsolekile’s exclusion. In 2015, a huge match-fixing scandal gripped RAM SLAM, South Africa’s domestic T20 tournament. Tsolekile was one of the players who had confessed to planning to fix a match during the competition. He was later handed a 12-year ban from playing all forms of officially recognised tournaments.
Racism and South Africa:
Recently, racism has been one of the most hotly debated topics in South African Cricket. The team is mandatorily required to select players based on their colour. Due to quota, the team once known for its world-class players is now facing an existential crisis as recently it had to host a minnow-like Netherland.
It’s true that South African Cricket had an anti-black bias in the past. However, the redemption has gone to the level of overcorrection and now meritorious players will not feel encouraged to come forward. Frankly, why should they feel encouraged when the country’s most successful captain is being villainised for keeping a match-fixer and an incompetent player out of the fold?