First published in age February 8, 1992
South Africans return to heal cricket scar
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 from protest.
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 the expatriate white South African population of Perth, with their national flag and whistles of joy; and representatives of the Australian Cricket Board, beaming faces and outstretched hands.
A spokesman for the ANC support group, Mr Glen Mashinini, pointed out that his group was at Perth International Airport to support the team, which he said was a stopover important in the movement towards democracy and integration in South Africa.
Only around 50 people were at the airport to greet the team members, who were quickly and discreetly 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 had been honed for the requirements of the International Limited Series Carnival from February 22.
“This event gives us the opportunity to play against West Indies and Pakistan for the first time in our history,” Wessels said. “The players on this team are very excited about it but also worried because they are going into the unknown.”