West Indies pace bowling great Michael Holding felt that the word 'quota' in South African cricket burdens black players while undermining their abilities. Holding spoke at the Cricket South Africa's Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) commission, Holding said that he understood why the country had the system in place and hoped that it will not necessary in the future.
"The quota system - I have heard that used on so many occasions when referring to South African cricketers of colour, that they are only there because the regulations say they have to be there. They are never given full credit for their abilities," Holding said.
"I understand initially why that was done. South Africa wanted to see a team and society that represents all of South Africa. And people in South Africa are in a hurry to see that. I suspect that people think that if it is not regulated it will happen very, very slowly and they want to see it happen quicker. I hope that eventually it will not be necessary," he added.
Holding pointed to the case of former Proteas pacer Makhaya Ntini who was the first black African to play for the country and had to carry the tag of quota throughout his international career for over a decade.
"That is a burden that Makhaya Ntini carried throughout his career. He spoke about it when I spoke to him for the book and I think it is unfair. He was a fantastic cricketer, his record proves that, everybody knows that, and not just in the latter stages of his career," Holding said of Ntini, who claimed 390 Test wickets in 101 matches.
"From the early stages of his career he proved his worth and that he belonged there but kept on carrying that burden of being pointed out as being there only because regulations said he should be there."
The legendary Windies pacer recalled the account of discrimination Ntini faced during his playing days.
"He would go for breakfast in the morning, he would sit at a table and his team-mates would come in and sit at another table and leave him by himself at his table. Other team-mates would come in and go and join their other team-mates and leave him at his table. He was trying to comfort himself by saying maybe they just have things they need to discuss among themselves. Later it grew on him that that was not really the reason. He was not considered one of them. He was not considered a full-fledged member of the team. I played cricket. I know about committees that are formed within teams, I know about senior members within teams. There were committees formed within the team, supposedly senior members of the team to discuss things, and he was never called to be a part of that committee. People who joined the team long after him automatically became senior because of the colour of their skin."
Holding also advocated for a shifting procedure, specifically the scholarship system which takes children out of disadvantaged areas and into elite schools.
"What I would like to see is opportunities being equal and everyone being given an opportunity to develop. I don't like the idea of scouts going out and handpicking people and taking them out of their comfort zone, somewhere else for them to try and develop. I would like to see the development process start from where that person is from. Go there and put the infrastructure in place," he said.