The Coming of Nelson and the ending of apartheid cricket : gatting’s rebels in South Africa, 1990

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    Abstract: 1990 is a pivotal year in South African history. The liberation movements were unbanned and Nelson Mandela walked out of Victor Verster Prison. These developments were to have a major impact on cricket in the country. An English rebel cricket team led by Mike Gatting was touring the country. The newly constituted National Sports Congress (NSC), which had the support of the African National Congress (ANC) was at the forefront of mass protests against the tour. For once Ali Bacher and his White apartheid cricket body were on the backfoot. But suddenly the NSC, despite massive protests against the tour, agreed to negotiate the end of the tour and call off protests. One of the central reasons for this was that the NSC leadership was informed that Mandela was to be released and that the NSC had to contribute to an environment of ‘stability’. These moves and countermoves were to accelerate the drive to cricket unity and see South African cricket participate in the 1992 World Cup, even before apartheid had officially ended. This article returns to those heady days and seeks to examine the mass protests against the tour and show how the broader political environment contributed to the ending of protests and the return to the international fold before the coming of one person-one vote with negative consequences for the game. The article is entitled ‘Nelson’ because in some cricket countries, such as South Africa, the score of 111 heightens expectations that a wicket could fall. 1990 was the year in which Mandela was released and apartheid’s wicket fell.