Mbhalati says the Titans deliberately blocked his selection to the Proteas

Tiisetso Malepa Sports reporter
Ethy Mbhalati of the Titans during The Unlimited Titans training session at SuperSport Park on October 07, 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Ethy Mbhalati of the Titans during The Unlimited Titans training session at SuperSport Park on October 07, 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa.
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 South Africa 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 South Africa’s (CSA) transformation inquiry‚ which were 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 says to me there was a year where we picked you for the Proteas.

“Then I asked him what happened. He said to me that your union Northens or Titans said you were injured and you were 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 during the time when you are telling me that I was selected.

“The coach told me we were surprised as well to see you playing for the Titans in the following fixture and said they did not understand that you were injured.”

“Only to realise that that time we were about to win the four-day competition as Titans.

“They could not release me to go and play for the Proteas because by then I was one of the best players who was doing well in the competition and they needed me to come and play for them.

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

Asked how did know that he was indeed selected to the Proteas but his selection was blocked‚ Mbhalati said: “Even someone at CSA management by then confirmed that yes ‘we selected you but your union at that time said you were injured’”.

Mbhalati remembered another sad day in his storied franchise career when he said 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 convenor 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 but I wanted to learn from Makhaya before he retires.

“That is when I learnt in the 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 as my childhood dream but it was not to be.”

Mbhalati‚ like 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.

“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 want to fine leg next to the boundary and while I was standing there fielding someone hit with me with a cell phone on my back.”