Story of cricket post-apartheid
February 17, 2017
Durban, South Africa – Eager Durbanites last night were able to rub shoulders with star author, world renowned sociologist and international academic, Professor Ashwin Desai, at the launch of his latest book titled “Reverse Sweep”, an installation which tells the South African story of Cricket since the demise of Apartheid.
The VIP suite at the Sahara Stadium Kingsmead was overwhelmingly filled to capacity with cricket royalty such as the leadership of the KZN Cricket Union, Mustapha Khan (former SA Cricket Board national player from KwaZulu Natal), Cassim Docrat (former CEO of the Gauteng Cricket Board), among others.
Ultimately, it was an affair which unified people from different racial and professional backgrounds. Desai, co- author of Blacks in Whites, told a packed audience about South Africa’s transition into democracy and subsequent post-Apartheid political and social events which had impacted on South African cricket.
Among the guests was well-known retired judge Chris Nicholson.
Professor Logan Naidoo, who facilitated the question and answer session with Desai, an academic in his own right, kept guests entertained with his wit and humour.
Desai was not shy to talk about the racism that had previously characterized South African cricket, adding that transformation had taken place, but the country had not reached desired goals and that challenges remained.
Guests not only got the opportunity to listen to Desai elaborating on the book, they had an opportunity to questione him on his stances, particularly about transformation in South African cricket.
Eloquent, confident and sure of his game, Desai responded with consistency to every question.
Desai argued that non-racialism in South Africa and especially in sport had been widely accepted as the non-recognition of race and this was not good in his view.
“We need to have a militant non-racialism ethos - one that doesn’t suppress race, but recognizes it, and confronts it,” declared Desai.
“We need to recognise that race matters,” continued Desai.
Desai said he was interested in opening a debate on how to find workable solutions to the challenges of transformation.
Speaking to Africa Daily, Naidoo, who is the former president of Cricket South Africa in KZN, said he was not surprised by the crowds that had rocked up for the launch. On the book, Naidoo said it would open up people’s minds in terms and make them ask questions that should have been asked many years ago.
“It will make readers look differently at people who are currently being worshipped in the sport of cricket. By Ashwin asking certain questions, he presents us with different lens of looking at South African cricket. Anything that Ashwin says or writes can be controversial but what’s special about his writing is that Ashwin not only writes for the general public, he also writes for academics as well and this book can be tested. It is not a loosely worded manuscript made for the sole purpose of selling,” said Naidoo.
"I think Ashwin must remain focused, keep on doing what he’s doing because he’s doing a marvellous job,” continued Naidoo.
Nicholson said the book accurately documented the struggles of people of colour before and after 1990.
“I think what makes the book great is that Ashwin Desai is a fearless, courageous and fantastic author. He footnotes every allegation that he makes so it is difficult to refute what he says,” Nicholson said.
The launch was organized and hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union.