For many years, cricket in South Africa was regarded as a lily-white sport.
However, this week, Cricket South Africa (CSA) celebrated 25 years of unity at a glittering award ceremony, held at the Sandton Convention Centre, where most awards went to black players.
Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada topped the list with a record-breaking six awards.
The other awards, from a total of 10 in the national professional category, went to Temba Bavuma – the first black African cricketer to make a Test century for South Africa; to Imran Tahir – who currently has the best ever bowling figures by a South African in One Day International cricket.
Stephen Cook and Dane van Niekerk were the only white players to receive the remaining two prizes. (See graphic for national professional awards and box for all award winners)
Even the other categories were dominated by unusual suspects, including the Groundsman of the Year award that went to Bethuel Buthelezi, who is the head groundsman at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium.
It is ironic that, following Buthelezi’s appointment to the position in October last year, ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent, Firdose Moonda, wrote: “South African cricket is going through a metamorphosis like never before as it grapples with how to tap into the large, previously disadvantaged population, both so that its talent pool is deeper and to correct the wrongs of the past.
“Buthelezi knows what it’s like to be on both sides of the divide and has come out of it as an extraordinary South African.”
This week, CSA president Chris Nenzani lauded the organisation for these achievements and promised to make ffurther strides going forward.
Here’s to a brighter future that will churn out more cricketers of the ilk of greats such as Makhaya Ntini, Rabada, Bavuma, Tahir, Hashim Amla and Alviro Petersen.