FORMER Cricket SA president Mtutuzeli Nyoka says Proteas selectors ought to take a gamble on speed sensation Kagiso Rabada as the next Test captain in the not-too-distant future.
Speaking on transformation in local cricket — including the recent historic domestic first-class clash between two black African captains — Nyoka said the 20-year-old showed the right signs of leadership.
“I like the signs and sounds that I hear from Rabada,” Nyoka said.
“Ask yourself, at what age did Graeme Smith become captain?
“SA is in the same transition it was when Smith became captain at 22. This is another phase, where we are looking for a long-term captain.
“I’d say Rabada is not far off from being captain. He has amazing potential. He would command his place in any squad in the world.
“He will have a full decade to develop as a player and as a leader, if the structures, management and coaching staff back him.”
While Rabada was destroying England in Centurion, the Cape Cobras’ Omphile Ramela and Dolphins’ stand-in captain Khaya Zondo became the first black African players to skipper their teams in a first-class match in SA.
Nyoka, who exited cricket in acrimonious circumstances five years ago, gave Cricket SA plaudits for recent transformation progress.
Zondo became the first black player to captain the Dolphins when coach Lance Klusener appointed him as regular skipper Morné van Wyk’s replacement, following the latter’s injury. Ramela was, before the start of the Sunfoil Series, chosen to lead the Cobras’ four-day team and scored 89 and 107 in the last match.
“This is a huge step in the right direction. One must compliment Cricket SA for all the things were are seeing,” Nyoka said. “We are not just talking numbers or quotas being fulfilled; we are talking about leadership positions, players having an influence in squad selections and in strategy.
“Looking at the national picture as well, Temba Bavuma and Rabada are not just there to fill up the numbers, but are performing.
“I would like to live long enough to see half the South African team being fielded with African players.
I’d like to see more Africans in management and coaching positions, so there is still work to be done.”
Last year, Cricket SA and a group of disgruntled black players calling themselves “Black Players in Unity” were at loggerheads over the lack of opportunities given to African black players.
They wrote to Cricket SA spelling out their unhappiness over the misuse of Aaron Phangiso at last year’s World Cup and Zondo on the tour to India.
The leader of that group, Ramela, said he had not paid particular attention to being part of the historic occasion when he walked out opposite Zondo onto the Kingsmead pitch last Thursday.
“Sometimes it’s not about the political significance, but more about the job that we do as cricketers and leaders in the team,” Ramela said.