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Old 30th June 2007, 03:17   #1
Midnight
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Roebuck fears for cricket unless inequality affecting blacks is redressed.

He claims that it's a game best played by black people and seems to suggest that England and South Africa are not doing enough to properly develop young black talent. I've posted the whole article because the link to this newspaper article is only usually viable for a day or two because it doesn't archive on the net. His weekly rant from his soapbox. One can imagine him sitting in front of his keyboard and smashing it with fury as the poison seeps from his angry mind and transforms itself into words. During our summers in the Melbourne Age he barely conceals his dislike of white Africans in some of his articles. Interesting that this piece appears in a climate where white Africans are increasingly trying their luck in the Old Dart due to their belief that the colour of their skin lessens their chances of representing their homeland.

Dark times for black cricket
•Sat, 30 Jun 2007


By Peter Roebuck


The decline of the West Indies is symptomatic of the problems facing black cricket worldwide


BLACK cricket is in a bad way. At no stage in the last 70 years has the outlook appeared as bleak. West Indies managed to lose a series 3-0 against an England side put in its place not long ago in an Ashes Series. Moreover, the team is captained by a young man of Indian extraction, and its leading batsmen is a fisherman’s son going by the name of Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Makhaya Ntini is the solitary black regular in the South African line-up, and he has been dropped from the One-Day outfit. Government-imposed quotas enforced by parliamentary grandstanders have been filled by promising mixed-race youngsters, such as Vernon Philander and J.P. Duminy. It is a disturbing situation. Black cricket has a proud tradition and hereabouts was expected to surge in the post-apartheid years. Instead jiggery pokery has been applied in a forlorn attempt to paint a rosy picture.

Across the rest of Africa the picture is relentlessly bleak. After a decade of suffering under a genocidal maniac and greedy administration, belatedly condemned in an ICC report released during the week, and notwithstanding the return of the mightily impressive Tatenda Taibu, Zimbabwe can hardly raise a team at all. The game is growing in Tanzania and elsewhere, but there is a long way to go before cricket can relax on the continent.

Much about the current state of black cricket could be told from the makeup of the side representing Africa in the 50-over matches played in the subcontinent. Admittedly the leading West Indians could not be considered. Even so, it was disconcerting to see the side sustained by “lily-whites”, with a few black Kenyans and Zimbabweans tossed in by way of encouragement. Had Heath Streak and Andy Flower been available, the team might have been white enough to impress those responsible for selling Daz.

Meanwhile, few black cricketers have broken through in England. Hardly anyone of significance has appeared since Devon Malcom and Gladstone Small. Scour the county scores and try to find more than a handful of mostly obscure local black players. More than English apologists care to admit (In a recent press conference Mr Blair modestly described his country as “the greatest in the world … and everyone knows it”), the fortunes of the national cricket team depend upon a Sikh spinner and a batsman from Pietermartizburg. Now Jonathon Trott, another white African, has been called up, yet there is an abundance of talent in immigrant communities. Black athletes and soccer players perform brilliantly in their chosen fields.

Evidently cricket is falling back in black communities. Hitherto the West Indies has always been able to provide inspiration. Sides from the region often represented the best of the game, not least its sense of fair play and fun. Over the years these seas have produced many of the game’s mightiest warriors and most of its finest men. Not so long ago, teams representing the region looked well nigh unbeatable. Now, the team looks weak. Faulty batting techniques, erratic bowling and slipshod fielding tell the tale.

It is a decline that must concern everyone involved in the game, especially those enriched by Alf Valentine’s startling spin, Wes Hall’s swinging chain, Everton Weekes’ square cut, Michael Holding’s graceful approach, George Headley’s defiance, C.L.R James’s words and, most of all, Sir Frank Worrell’s gentle smile.

A hundred theories have been advanced to explain the collapse. Probably the most valid concerning the changing nature of local society, with the decline of the churches, the replacement of cane fields by hotels and a service industry. Perhaps modern youngsters exposed to television find their heroes and models elsewhere. Evidently they are no longer look towards the game as a source of consolation or hope or as a means of expression. As interest falls so standards fall in domestic cricket. It is a vicious circle. Meanwhile, the giants of the past walk around milking their names.

Cricket must confront and correct this dismaying situation. Three of the game’s 10 Test-playing countries are predominantly black. Clearly, the first step is to work out what has gone wrong. In the 1950s and 1960s it was fashionable in some circles to argue that black men could not play a game depending so much on concentration. Of course they could not serve as receiver or stand-off either, let alone write books, win tennis or golf tournaments or run businesses. Its not so long ago the same was said about other races. It is not a theory that easily survives a study of the careers of Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Learie Constantine and so many others in so many fields.

No, the problem is not racial. Although fashions change in every community, it is not entirely cultural either. Doubtless liberated youth does want to sing its own songs but cricket is a fine game and remains the master of its own fate.

Money and motivation have crucial parts to play in any revival. Don’t blame the clientele. Indeed cricket ought not to blame anyone except itself. The black cricketers in my charge are committed, Christian, intelligent, capable, well-educated and poor. Far from turning its back on the church, liberated Africa has turned towards it. Cricket has the same opportunity and must work harder to take it.

Economics is a factor. In most countries, cricket has been a middle-class game. The costs of transport and the colonial schooling saw to that. Also it has been an expensive game to play. In recent years, though, the mould has been broken, especially in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Most emerging players in these countries come from impoverished rural areas. Urban boys are too worried about haircuts. They want everything on a plate. Accordingly, cricket has been sustained by the common man. Its just as well. In the television age, a game cannot otherwise survive.

Only in Africa is this change not taking place. The reason is simple. The common man still cannot afford to play, and anyhow lacks champions and facilities. Several challenges must be met or else the alienation will increase. First, the past must be reclaimed. After all, it has been a game best played by black sides. Not many team games can say that. Then talent must be unearthed and developed. Starting with the rising middle-class and spreading till it has reached the raw upon whose staunch efforts the game so much relies. It is not going to be a one-year wonder, but the product of decades of toil and investment.

All and sundry must recognise the extent of the problem and stop thinking about miracle cures or imposed solutions. Cricketers cannot be microwaved. And it is a game best played in families and villages. But it is a fight cricket cannot afford to lose. In its narrowness cricket will also find its death.

Last edited by Midnight : 30th June 2007 at 07:17.
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Old 30th June 2007, 07:41   #2
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Couple of things:

1) He's correct in saying that there are few black cricketers in English cricket. However, it's not a case of institutionalised racism (I don't know if this is what he was implying, the bile makes the piece difficult to read) as the team's fortunes do indeed depend upon a Sikh spinner. There is a real sense of meritocracy surrounding Team England nowadays, but there just isn't a black cricketer worth a place in the team at the moment. Things may change, and the ECB are keen to support this change, they have a number of initiatives to ensure cricketing facilities are available to under-represented groups, and that includes young blacks... Unfortunately, we may not see the benefits of this for a few years.

2) From what I've read, there does seem to be a socio-economic pressure in the West Indies that means the poorly performing Test side isn't the be-all-and-end-all for young lads looking for role models. Looking at some of the more recent comments (the captaincy issue and the potential political wrangling involved in the choices/ the World Cup's thin spreading across the Islands) you can almost sense a schism in West Indian cricket is about to break. Perhaps what would be best for the West Indies is a break up, and an injection of something discussed on another thread... In the absence of calypso talent and skill aligned with application and drive - what price some national fervour? Jamaica and Trinidad could almost compete, if they had the infrastructure in place within a few years. You may even see Chris Gayle looking enervated if he had his nation on his back, rather than the weight of history.

3) I can't comment on other countries, as there are people on the board hugely more qualified so to do.

4) Anyone else worried by this comment? "The black cricketers in my charge are committed, Christian, intelligent, capable, well-educated and poor." They've let him loose with some more (I assume young) cricketers? Do they never learn?
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Old 30th June 2007, 07:50   #3
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I see he doesnt even mention Australia
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Old 30th June 2007, 08:35   #4
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Which in itself is very telling. Apart from Symmonds (who is, of course English by birth), when was the last time the Ozzie team included someone less than 100% pure white? Look at home first Mr R!

I think as far as England is concerned he forgets that many talented black sportsmen prefer football, athletics or formula 1 driving to cricket. It hopefully isn't so much that cricket rejects them. After all, there are increasing numbers of players with asian-type backgrounds achieving so much in cricket now. I guess it's because they prefer cricket to some of the other sporting options offered.
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Old 30th June 2007, 08:59   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midnight View Post
Hardly anyone of significance has appeared since Devon Malcom and Gladstone Small.
He's got a point here though. I struggle to think of any player of recent times who is either incredibly short-sighted or has no neck. England is clearly prejudiced against such disadvantaged minorities.

It would never happen in Australia.
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Old 30th June 2007, 09:58   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Wallflower View Post
Couple of things:



4) Anyone else worried by this comment? "The black cricketers in my charge are committed, Christian, intelligent, capable, well-educated and poor." They've let him loose with some more (I assume young) cricketers? Do they never learn?

He's commented often on Melbourne radio that he has young black cricketers under his charge and he has hosted the Zimbabwe under 19 team in his home before. But I see what you're getting at.

What has being Christian got to do with being a potentially successful cricketer btw?
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Old 30th June 2007, 10:34   #7
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(In a recent press conference Mr Blair modestly described his country as “the greatest in the world … and everyone knows it”), the fortunes of the national cricket team depend upon a Sikh spinner...

What has that got to do with the price of fish?!
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Old 30th June 2007, 10:40   #8
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(In a recent press conference Mr Blair modestly described his country as “the greatest in the world … and everyone knows it”), the fortunes of the national cricket team depend upon a Sikh spinner...

What has that got to do with the price of fish?!
He is saying that if we're so great why can't we produce our own cricketers. In other words, he is saying Monty is not English because he is a Sikh.

Nice chap.
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Old 30th June 2007, 10:46   #9
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was not monty born in luton?
north of calcutta?!?

he is more english than bloody andrew strauss!
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Old 30th June 2007, 10:46   #10
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peter roebuck is an idiot!
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Old 30th June 2007, 10:54   #11
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and so is tony blair!


i will be damned in flames for this!

oh well
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Old 30th June 2007, 10:56   #12
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I feel quite sorry for him. He really is full of hate and spite. I suppose that is why he fits in so well in Australia.
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Old 30th June 2007, 10:57   #13
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Who cares what Roebuck writes anyway?
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Old 30th June 2007, 11:26   #14
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I feel quite sorry for him. He really is full of hate and spite. I suppose that is why he fits in so well in Australia.
Replace 'Australia' with 'England' and you've written a Roebuck article. Congratulations.
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Old 30th June 2007, 11:49   #15
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Replace 'Australia' with 'England' and you've written a Roebuck article. Congratulations.
He only lives here for about four or five months of the year; the rest of the time he resides in South Africa. Obviously the South Africans tolerate his trenchant criticism of just about anything so he is perhaps upping the vitriol metre as the weeks go by.

When he writes his columns during our summer for the Melbourne Age, he tends more to literary allusions than reflect the sort of incendiary persona that he assumes on his farm in SA.
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Old 30th June 2007, 11:50   #16
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Interestingly, I've managed to find a photo of Roebuck taken just as he was preparing to write this article...

http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/B/...ackandwhim.htm
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Old 30th June 2007, 12:02   #17
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i have actually seen articles written by "sir" roebuck on many occasions,and believe you me,whatever he writes about at the time,whatever he feels,he really has not got anything favourable to say about anything.
it is like he has a huge chip on his shoulder and everything in this world owes him something!

i am not really surprised when it comes to reading a roabuck piece of litererary genius writing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Last edited by STT : 30th June 2007 at 12:30. Reason: No abuse please Vic, even if we agree with the sentiment!
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Old 30th June 2007, 12:29   #18
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I haven't bothered reading the whole article because of who the author is (with apologies to Midnight...) Roebuck doesn't get taken seriously on my screen.

The "christian" reference though tells you all you need to know about him. What on earth has that got to do with cricket?!
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Old 30th June 2007, 12:32   #19
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yes i agree stt.in my post i spelt roebuck wrong lol

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Old 30th June 2007, 12:38   #20
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Quote:
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He is saying that if we're so great why can't we produce our own cricketers. In other words, he is saying Monty is not English because he is a Sikh.

Nice chap.
The fact that Panesar is a Sikh and represents England (and thrives on this) is something which really backs up Blair's point.
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