First black African batsman plays Test cricket for South Africa

I saw this story the other day and was kind of blown away by it. Temba Bavuma is the first black African to play Test cricket for South Africa as a specialist batsman.

Five other black Africans have played Test cricket for South Africa: fast bowlers Makhaya Ntini, Monde Zondeki, Mfuneko Ngam, and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, and the wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile. Ntini is the only one who had a long and successful career. Ngam put up some great numbers in his three Tests but his international career was derailed by stress fractures in his legs. Zondeki had some good numbers too in his six Tests, but some of his best games were against weak teams and he had injury problems also.

A cricket team consists of 11 players, one of whom is the wicketkeeper (like the catcher in baseball). Then there will be 5 or 6 specialist batsmen and 4 or 5 specialist bowlers (who also bat, but usually aren't very good at it). There may be one or two all-rounders (a player who can bat a bit and bowl a bit). So I was a bit shocked to realize that no other black African batsmen have played Tests for South Africa, considering 5 or 6 play in every Test.

Of course, because of international sanctions due to apartheid, South Africa didn't play any officially sanctioned Test matches for 22 years, from partway through 1970 to partway through 1991. All of their black African Test players have played post-readmission.

In Test matches South Africa have had a couple players of Asian descent (such as Imran Tahir and Hashim Amla) and a fairly large number of coloured players (such as Justin Ontong, Robin Peterson, and Ashwell Prince). For Americans, black African and coloured are considered separate racial groups in South Africa; "coloured" basically means mixed descent.


They have also had at least 1 black African cricketer who played One-Day International cricket but not Tests: the spin bowler Thandi Tshabalala. (Tests are the five-day international games.) I'm not sure at the moment if there have been any others.

In his first Test Bavuma batted once and scored 10; a lot of time was lost due to rain so he didn't get to bat again. In his second Test, as I write this he has not batted yet but will likely be the next man in when one of the two batsmen batting now gets out. He did take a catch when West Indies were batting.