Kagiso Rabada’s double hattrick at the CSA Awards this week was just what cricket bosses needed to put their transformation plans into full swing.
After announcing that CSA would introduce racial targets for the first time, the 21-year-old fast bowling sensation made history at Tuesday’s gala event by winning almost all the major prizes on offer.
A sensational debut season saw him named the youngest SA Cricketer of the Year ever.
He also won the Test and ODI Player of the Year and was voted the Fans’ and Players’ Player of the Year.
The Lions ace also bagged the delivery of the year award.
And it could have been more. His hattrick on ODI debut, which saw him rake up the best figures by an SA bowler (6/16) could easily have given him the performance of the year.
But that honour was saved for Temba Bavuma and his historic maiden Test hundred at Newlands against England.
That knock for the local laaitie was another blow to those opposed to transformation, as the nuggety batsman became the first black African to score a century at the highest level for South Africa.
It will be hard for those who are against a more representative team to form an argument over whether you either transform or win.
Their argument of course is that fielding players of colour weakens our national teams.
Well, they got another bekskoot when the Proteas beat ODI world champions Australia with a record eight non-whites in the team not too long ago in the Caribbean.
It all makes sense for CSA to push the agenda hard now.
“Quota” players are performing alright yeah.
And they seem to be doing it the sensible way. In the CSA statement, they will look to meet the targets over the course of the season, rather that match by match.
This means that the selection panel will give the players a chance and test their abilities in matches in order to build their confidence.
Players have often been thrown in the deep end. And when they fail, the haters say that they were never good enough and couldn’t handle the pressure.
In the end they are not given a fair chance to prove themselves.
All you have to do is look at the way they treated Jacques Kallis, who like Temba Bavuma, scored his maiden Test hundred after the same number of games (seven).
Once identified as a player of international quality, you have to back the player and help nurture confidence.
But still, top-down transformation is a minefield. A conveyor belt of black talent needs to be built and with the structures in place at franchise level, more attention and coaching must happen down there.
There is talent at SA A level and national junior level and they need their chance.