Proteas ‘disrepectful’ for not wearing armbands, says Cullinan
DARYLL Cullinan says the Proteas have disregarded their history by not acknowledging the deaths of Neil Adcock and Peter van der Merwe.
What, Cullinan asks, will they do when someone as prominent as Ali Bacher dies, considering his complex history in the game.
Adcock died on January 6 and Van der Merwe on January 23. SA have since been on the field on 11 separate days, and they have yet to wear black armbands.
That despite former SA fast bowler Adcock and ex-test captain Van der Merwe being acknowledged by a moment’s silence at Cricket SA’s annual meeting in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Team management said at the weekend that the players themselves decided which deaths to recognise, and that they “remembered the sensitivities” on both sides of SA cricket’s racial divide when doing so.
By dint of their white race and SA’s apartheid past, Adcock and Van der Merwe were privileged in every facet of their lives.
Whether other players were more deserving of a place in the national team than them cannot be known because SA sport was racially segregated at every level.
The facilities, coaching and equipment available to black players was invariably well below the standard of that reserved by law for whites.
Cullinan said that reality did not disqualify the contribution Adcock and Van der Merwe had made to the national cricket cause.
“The very reputation that Graeme Smith’s team enjoys today — being tough and competitive — was created on the backs of the Adcocks, Pollocks (Peter and Graeme) and (Barry) Richards; let’s go back to Nourse (Dave and Dudley). It goes back to the first game the very first SA side every played.
“There should be at least a thought given to the respect that that fact deserves. That legacy, albeit tainted, still carries through today and the world remembers that.”
Cullinan sketched the complexities of SA sport succinctly.
“I was among the last cricket Springboks, but I also became a Protea. Allan (Donald, SA’s current bowling coach) played, but now Allan’s party to this decision.
“This is more than a political issue – this is about respect from cricketer to cricketer.”
He raised the example of Bacher, who captained the last all-white SA team to play test cricket before the country’s isolation for 22 years.
Bacher became managing director of the United Cricket Board, CSA’s forerunner, where he organised rebel tours to SA in defiance of efforts to end apartheid.
However, Bacher saw the error of those ways and became a major figure in the racial unification of the game and its development among black South Africans.
His crowning achievement was SA’s highly successful hosting of the 2003 World Cup, of which he was executive director.
“If Ali died tomorrow, God forbid, would the flags fly at half-mast?” Cullinan asked.
“Would Kirsten and Smith have had the balls to not acknowledge him?”
Cullinan labelled the decision not to wear armbands for Adcock and Van der Merwe “naive” and hoped “it doesn’t come back to haunt them”.