South Africa’s return heals cricket scar

First published in The Age on February 8, 1992

South Africans return to heal cricket scars

The first South African cricket team to set foot on Australian soil in 23 years – and the first to represent multiracial South Africa – arrived in Perth yesterday but there was not a single voice of protest.

South African players celebrate at the 1992 World Cup.Credit:The Age Archive

The welcome party was divided into three groups: representatives of the local African National Congress support group with their ANC flags and chants of “cricket yes, apartheid no”; representatives of Perth’s white expatriate South African population with their national flag and whistles of joy; and representatives of the Australian Cricket Board with beaming faces and outstretched hands.

A spokesman for the ANC support group, Mr Glen Mashinini, stressed that his group was at Perth International Airport to support the team, which he said was an important step in the movement towards democracy and integration in South Africa.

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Only about 50 people were at the airport to greet the team members, who were quickly and unobtrusively whisked into town while their captain, coach and manager attended a press conference.

The team’s captain, former Australian Test player Kepler Wessels, said his players have been fine-tuned for the demands of the international limited-overs carnival, which begins on February 22.

“This event gives us the opportunity to face off against the West Indies and Pakistan for the first time in our history,” Wessels said. “The players in this squad are very excited about it, but also worried because they are going into the unknown.”

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