Titans quickie Ethy Mbhalati says team blocked his selection to the Proteas

20 July 2021 - 14:55
Ethy Mbhalati of the Titans has told of racial abuse and how he had a cellphone thrown at him while he was fielding.
Ethy Mbhalati of the Titans has told of racial abuse and how he had a cellphone thrown at him while he was fielding.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Former Titans star bowler Ethy Mbhalati has said that management at the Centurion-based union deliberately blocked his selection to the Proteas.

Mbhalati‚ who played 350 matches and took a staggering 594 wickets in all formats for the Titans‚ played for the SA A side for eight years but never got a look in for the senior national Proteas team.

Mbhalati was giving testimony at the public hearings of Cricket SA’s (CSA's) transformation inquiry‚ which was established to investigate racial discrimination within the organisation‚ and to recommend remedial action.

Mbhalati said there was a time when he was doing well for the Titans in the four-day domestic circuit and got noticed by the national team selectors. But he was eventually left out of the Proteas team after the Titans management told the national team selectors that he was injured when he was not.

“Another sad blow for me was in 2011 or 2012 when we toured Zimbabwe with the SA A side to play a triangular series with Australia.

“One day while we were there one of the coaches told me 'there was a year when we picked you for the Proteas'.

“Then I asked him what happened. He said to me that my union, Northerns or Titans, said I was injured and not available for selection.

“I said how could that be? He said we were told you are injured. I said no‚ I was not injured at that time.

“The coach told me they were surprised to see me playing for the Titans in the next fixture and said they did not understand [because I was supposed to be injured].

“Only to realise that at the time the Titans were about to win the four-day competition and I was one of their best players and they needed me.

“It was just a sad moment to find that out‚ that some of the Titans management denied me the opportunity to represent my country.”

Asked how he knew this for sure‚ Mbhalati said someone else, at CSA management, confirmed he had been selected and the union said he was injured.

Mbhalati related another sad day in his storied career when he was unfairly omitted from the World Cup squad for the 2011 edition.

“I remember the 2011 World Cup‚ the preliminary squad‚ I think it was a 30-man squad. They were about to announce the 15-man squad.

“The Proteas played at Centurion and they were about to announce the team after the game. Before they announced the squad‚ I got a call from the convener of selectors saying to me ‘sorry, unfortunately we are not going to take you to the World Cup because you don’t have experience and we will take Makhaya Ntini'.

“I told the selector that I wanted to learn from Makhaya before he retired.

“That is when I learnt that in SA a black African player must wait for another black African player to retire before he gets a chance.

“That year I was doing very well and I thought it was going to be my time to go to the World Cup and represent my country — my childhood dream — but it was not to be.”

Mbhalati‚ as with numerous witnesses who have testified before him‚ said he was exposed to racism and discrimination of inconceivable proportions.

“One white spectator called me a monkey during one of the matches I was playing for the Titans.

“And I remember one day we were playing a T20 final in Durban and I think I took three wickets.

“So when I finished bowling I went to fine leg next to the boundary and while I was standing there fielding someone hit with me with a cellphone on my back.”

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