The Cricket South Africa-supported process of rewriting the history of South African cricket took another step forward today. During the innings break of the first Momentum ODI between the Standard Bank Proteas and England, authors, Dr Richard Parry and Dr Jonty Winch handed over to CSA vice-president Beresford Williams and WPCA president Nick Kok the first copies of their book dealing with the origins of segregation in South African sport 70 years before the Basil D’Oliveira affair.
In ‘Too Black to Wear Whites: The Remarkable Story of Krom Hendricks a Cricket Hero who was Rejected by Cecil John Rhodes’s Empire’ (Penguin Random House), the authors describe the life and times of a black Cape cricket hero, who was nominated for the 1894 tour to England and the South African Test team in 1896 but omitted at the insistence of Cape Prime Minister, Cecil John Rhodes, by his private secretary and national cricket captain/administrator, William ‘Joey’ Milton.
William Henry ‘Krom’ Hendricks’s story is a compelling human drama. Hailing from Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap and married in St George’s Cathedral, Hendricks played for the South African ‘Malay’ team against Walter Read’s touring English professionals in 1892. They considered him one of the best fast bowlers in the world, on a par with ‘The Demon’ Spofforth of Australia.
Hendricks struck fear into the white establishment on as well as off the pitch. Against Claremont in 1900 his figures were an astonishing 9-9-0-9. He targeted elite South African batsmen including Murray Bisset, Vollie van der Byl and Stanley Horwood, who feared his express pace and the prospect of humiliation at the hands of a ‘coloured’ player.
After the door was slammed shut at the national level, the WPCU’s answer to Hendricks’ continuing outstanding performances was to ban coloured players from representative and senior club cricket through the infamous by-law 10 (the ‘Hendricks’ law). Hendricks challenged the WPCU’s ruling over a decade before joining Cavaliers in the coloured City League in 1904. During the First World War, he led City League representative teams against white sides in fundraisers in support of the war effort.
CSA Acting CEO Dr. Jacques Faul, CSA Transformation Manager Max Jordaan and historian Prof Andre Odendaal, who has led CSA’s ‘Retelling the history of South African Cricket’ project, which flowed out of the CSA Transformation Charter, welcomed the new book as a major addition to the early history of South African cricket.
Odendaal said that, “From a few footnotes a few years ago, we now have a rounded picture of an early South African bowling star and the almost unbelievable dramas that surrounded his life and career.”
Parry and Winch explained: “We were inspired to write this story by the work of Andre and many others active in the CSA’s transformation project. The Hendricks case was a tragic squandering of an opportunity for South African cricket. We aim to set the record straight, exposing the cocktail of social racism, politics and imperialism, which drove implementation of segregation on the cricket field, leading to decades of senseless, destructive discrimination and the blighting of lives. We also wish to celebrate a true South African hero and contribute to CSA’s necessary transformation process today.”
Dr. Faul commented: “The CSA Family congratulates the authors of this outstanding work that reminds us once again of the imperative need to fill the missing links in South Africa’s cricket history. This is a most welcome addition to our historical narrative.”
For enquiries/interviews and copies of today’s hand-over speech contact Richard Parry on firstname.lastname@example.org and Jonty Winch on Jonty.email@example.com.