Transformation in cricket: The Black African experience
Background: The small number of black African (BA) cricket players progressing through the talent development pathways to the elite level has been a constant concern for Cricket South Africa (CSA). Previous attempts to accelerate the development of BA players have not produced the desired results. A description of the barriers to development is imperative for appropriate interventions.
Objectives: To understand the career progression of BA cricketers in South Africa by investigating their and other key informants’ perceptions, and identifying factors that may influence progress to the elite level.
Methods: A qualitative study consisting of 23 semi-structured interviews with BA players who had succeeded at the senior level (n = 11), and key informants (n = 12), was conducted. Content analysis of the data identified 92 themes, which were then
aggregated into 12 categories.
Results: Five enablers (exposure to the game, education, facilities and equipment, coaching and support networks), and five barriers (team environment, quality opportunities to compete, socio-economic factors, cricket player development pathways and leadership) were identified. Two further factors (intrapersonal attributes and targets) were identified, but the differing opinions of the interviewees on the influence of these variables made it difficult to classify them. Whilst all categories were perceived to contribute in the progress of BA players to the elite level, education, support networks, quality opportunities to compete, team environment and socio-economic factors were believed to be the most important.
Conclusion: The sustainable transformation of South African cricket appears to be not only about ensuring demographically representative teams, but also about addressing barriers affecting progress that may be experienced by all players. This study highlighted the key factors that are perceived to be specific to BA cricketers.
Keywords: talent pathways, ethnicity, career progression