If your interest in cricket has been aroused by the ICC World Cup 2003, then Blacks in Whites – A century of Cricket Struggles in KwaZulu-Natal is a must for all!
Co-authored by Desai, Padayachee, Reddy and Vahed the book challenges the 'Great Story' of South African Cricket in which, for too long, Black cricketers have been excluded, trivialised or silenced from the master narrative of South African cricket.
Blacks in Whites takes an in depth look at the history and development of non-racial cricket in KwaZulu-Natal and chronicles the courage, trials and tribulations of truly non-racial sports personalities determined to knock the bales out of apartheid sport.
And this is what the book is about. Written in two parts, Part One: Playing Apart is a vivid sketch of the political and social environment under which black sports toiled and struggled.
Looking back the authors document the rise and development of Indian cricket, the decline of African cricket and also Coloured and Malay cricket in the province. For once the brutal segregation of sport under colonial and apartheid rule occupies centre stage prompting the authors to ask:
The story of Black cricket begs the question as to which was more tragic, the denial of opportunity to a minority of Whites as a result of an international boycott or the systematic exclusion of millions of Blacks because of the abhorrent policy of apartheid?
On the subject of African cricket in the province, the authors list some important facts. Cricket was in part introduced, sponsored and encouraged by missionaries during the 1930s and played by a small African elite – the excuse me class. Amongst the reasons cited for the decline of African cricket in the province was the fact that Africans were relocated into townships, lacked facilities and occupied poorly paid jobs.
Part Two: Moving to Non-Racialism, traces the slow path towards unity as black sport in general and cricket in particular vows never to play normal sport in an abnormal society.
United under the banner of the South African Council on Sport (SACOS), the struggle for non-racial cricket gains momentum as "white" South African sport is further isolated from the international arena.
The authors focus on attempts to "normalise" cricket while maintaining the pillars of apartheid – a foolish and desperate act that failed to break the international sports boycott.
Blacks and Whites is not all about gloom and doom, politics and heavy stuff. The authors tell it like it is. The book numbering some 500 pages is well researched and draws a lot from archives, newspapers and interviews. There are lots of funny anecdotes. Here is one of my favourites:
'Cricket team bundled out for 3'
In a whole-day Shell cup fixture at Rossburgh on Sunday, the Huletts CC bundled out Isipingo CC for 3 – establishing what may be claimed as a new cricket record. Batting first Isipingo made 53 with R. Bhangari 24 not out. Huletts replied with 49. In their second innings Isipingo scored 3 of which one was a bye! (Graphic 23 January 1953)
If you are involved in issues of transformation, then Blacks in Whites is definitely an asset. Published by the University of Natal Press , the book is available at all reputable book stores throughout the country – Get it! Read it!