Although quotas, or “targets” as they are called officially, have been in place at provincial and franchise level for several years, it is the first time they have been introduced for the national team.
The targets were ratified at Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) annual general meeting in Johannesburg after being discussed by sub-committees.
The official targets are a minimum of 54 percent black players — effectively six players other than white — with 18 percent black African, which equates to two players in a team of 11.
This effectively means an average maximum of five white players in a team.
CSA president Chris Nenzani described the targets as “very attainable” and said the South African team was already meeting them.
The targets will be measured as an average across all three forms of the game –- Tests, one-day internationals and Twenty20 internationals –- over the course of a season.
The team that beat New Zealand in the second Test in Centurion on Tuesday met the target exactly. There were two black Africans in Temba Bavuma and Kagiso Rabada and four other players of colour, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Vernon Philander and Dane Piedt.
Nenzani noted that the one-day international team which competed in a triangular series against Australia and the West Indies in the West Indies recently had up to eight players of colour in the team.
“With the targets being measured over the full season and being cumulative across all three formats, our selectors and team management will have the flexibility to deal with varying circumstances,” he said.
All sports in South Africa have come under pressure to “transform” and cricket was one of four sports singled out by sports minister Fikile Mbalula in April for failing to meet racial transformation targets.
He said the sports would not be allowed to bid for major international events following a report from an “eminent persons group” which found the pace of racial transformation was too slow.
The targets for domestic matches over the past two seasons have been six players of colour in each starting team, of whom at least three must be black Africans.
In recent seasons there has been an informal target of four players of colour in the national team.
There was controversy when the team management wanted to retain the team which beat Sri Lanka in the 2015 Cricket World Cup quarter-finals for the semi-final against New Zealand, although it included eight white players.
Pressure was put on the management and Vernon Philander, who had been unfit for the quarter-final, replaced Kyle Abbott in a match which South Africa lost.