JOHANNESBURG: Former South African pacer Roger Telemachus has said that during his playing days, his countrys cricket was controlled by a group of white players, who were referred to as ‘big five’.
Telemachus offered an explanation of how the term came into being. “That is where the big five started. They control selection. They control everything. They used to go to the coach and say this is how we are going to play. This is where we gave the name to these players,” Telemachus said at the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) hearings on Thursday.
Without revealing the name of the players, Telemachus said to Advocate Sandile July, “This is a group of white players.”
Telemachus claimed that the group was partly responsible for him not getting a match at the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies. He also indicated there was political interference in selection.
“A week before the semi-final I was told I will definitely be playing the semifinal. I asked the coach what was the reason and he said one of our fast bowlers has a niggle. But before that, Makhaya Ntini was out of form and the day before, apparently, they got an email from CSA that the ANC (African National Congress) are putting pressure on them because there are no black African cricketers in the team.”
Telemachus further said, “That is the reason why the coach came to me and said, ‘Sorry, this is the story, unfortunately you can’t play.’ He showed me the mail. My question to them was why can’t Roger Telemachus and Makhaya Ntini play together in the semifinal? No answers, nothing happened. I was left out. I called my family and told them I am going to play and they should watch out for me. And then I was told I wouldn’t play. I almost got physical with that coach (Mickey Arthur). The assistant coach had to stop me. I was furious, I was hurt.”
In the semi-final against Australia, neither Telemachus nor Ntini featured in the match which South Africa lost by seven wickets.
The SJN hearings aim to provide a platform for those involved in cricket to recount incidents of racial discrimination in the past and look for incidents of bias in the game now. The hearings are due to run for the next two weeks after which ombudsman Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza will produce a report and recommendations to CSA.
Telemachus played 37 ODIs and three T20Is over nine years.