Ntini rant 'disturbs' Thami
THAMI Tsolekile was "disturbed" by Makhaya Ntini's assertion that he would be playing for South Africa if he were white.
But he understands that Ntini wants to see more black African players in a Proteas team that has failed miserably to represent the nation demographically.
Two weeks ago, Ntini, the only black African to have been a regular member of the national team, despite the sport supposedly having been unified for 21 years, challenged the country's fragile racial sensibilities.
"I don't understand how we can only have one black cricketer in our [Test] squad," Ntini said. "What's going on? In the whole squad - one?
"Tsolekile would have been playing if he were white. People will say we are talking politics but we need to say these things."
Ntini's view that South African cricket remains racially divided would seem to be borne out by how the Proteas players spent the four-day break they were given after the first Test against Australia in Brisbane.
The white players in the squad all chose to visit the Sunshine Coast or the Great Barrier Reef. The players of colour all decided to remain in the team hotel until the squad re-assembled yesterday.
As a black South African, Tsolekile would know only too well the dangers of rocking the boat in a sport that is still seen as the domain of the elite.
"Having played most of my cricket in the township, Makhaya has always been our icon," he said at the weekend.
"What he said was quite disturbing; I wouldn't know why he said that.
"He was speaking on behalf of himself. Maybe he has got his own reason why he said that.
"Maybe he is talking from the point that he wishes he could see more African players playing for the Proteas. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what he meant."
Tsolekile is the best gloveman in South Africa but that's not good enough for him to play in a Proteas' team that prefers AB de Villiers behind the stumps to cram the XI with seven specialist batsmen.
And that despite De Villiers' chronic back condition and that he has struggled in his primary role - as a batsman - since he took the gloves on the tour to England in the winter.
"I had a long chat with [coach] Gary [Kirsten] in England and in Australia, and I think he made it clear where I stand and I am happy with that," Tsolekile said.
He made his debut in Kanpur in 2004 but almost eight years on he has not added to the three Tests he played on that tour.
The prevailing theory is that Tsolekile will win his next cap against New Zealand and Pakistan next month.