Khaya Zondo believes his non-selection during the Proteas’ tour of India in 2015 changed the course of his career.
When JP Duminy was ruled out of the final match of the ODI series due to injury, Dean Elgar – who had been named in the Test squad – was flown in early to play in the ODI, with Zondo – part of the original ODI squad – missing out.
In testimony given to the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) hearings, tour selector Hussein Manack said he was pressured into selecting Elgar over Zondo by AB de Villiers, the Proteas ODI captain.
“India is a lucrative tour and, if you perform there, you can showcase your skills and you have the opportunity to be viewed and seen by the Indian public and IPL team owners. There’s a lot to gain from it,” Zondo testified at the SJN hearings.
“There was also the opportunity to create history for South Africa’s Proteas. So, do I think there was race involved? I definitely think there was a racial element involved in the matter.”
However, De Villiers denied race had anything to do with Elgar’s elevation to the team telling the SJN that he believed Zondo was a “non-playing” member of the squad, who was there purely to “gain experience” and “see how the system works”. He said he believed Elgar and Farhaan Behardien were the next batsmen in line in the event of an injury.
In an interview with Sport24 this week, Zondo said that after the incident he thought, “I don’t think my career will ever be normal”.
He also considered quitting the game, but with the support of family and friends, he soldiered on.
“How did I deal with it? I think my support structure [helped me],” he said. “At home, my family told me, don’t give up, find ways to get through this.
“Funnily enough, one of the cricketers I spoke to said to me he admired that I still played cricket, and he appreciated the fact that I didn’t go off the rails and become a ‘bum’, basically, or someone who just constantly complains about this.
“I still think about the times when I was a quarter to calling it [a day]. This was not how it was meant to go, I thought.
“But then again, they say God gives his strongest soldiers his toughest battles. You go through that, but you fight, and you come out the other side a stronger individual, and you learn from it.”
Zondo finally made his ODI debut against India in Centurion in 2018. He has earned six ODI caps, scoring 146 runs at an average of 29.20 and strike rate of 63.20, with a highest score of 54.
In April, the 32-year-old made his Test debut against Bangladesh in Gqeberha as a concussion replacement on the final morning of the match and did not bat.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images
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