Tony Becca, Contributor
In the mid to late 1960s when England, the West Indies, India, Pakistan, and New Zealand were swopping victories and defeats over each other, Australia were, to the casual observer, Test cricket's top dog, drawing with England and beating India, New Zealand, and the West Indies among other good results.
There was one team the Aussies could not stay with, however, and that team was the South Africans, the team that did not play the Black countries, teams likes India, Pakistan, and the West Indies.
In 1966-67, however, South Africa beat Australia 3-1 at home, winning the first Test by 233 runs, losing the second, winning the third by eight wickets, drawing the fourth, and winning the fifth by seven wickets.
And in 1969-70, again at home, South Africa won the four-Test series 4-0, winning the first Test by 170 runs, the second by an innings and 129 runs, the third by 307 runs, and the fourth by 323 runs.
And it was more than that: while South Africa, captained by Ali Bacher, had Eddie Barlow, Graeme Pollock, Tiger Lance, wicketkeeper Dennis Lindsay, Mike Procter, Peter Pollock, and later by Barry Richards in their line-up, Australia were represented by champions to the rest of the world, by the likes of Bob Simpson, Bill Lawry, Ian Redpath, Ian Chappell, Graham McKenzie, Neil Hawke, and later on by one such as Doug Walters.
It was never confirmed, but for those three or four years, South Africa were considered the best in the business.
In those days, however, South Africa, White South Africa, considered themselves better than the Black, Indian, and Coloured people in the world. Those were the days of Apartheid, and as such, South African teams, and those they played against, were exclusively all-White.
Today, however, ever since 1991 after Nelson Mandela was released from prison, Blacks, Indians, and Coloureds have been allowed to play, but apart from Makhaya Ntini, who had a glorious career of 101 matches and 390 wickets, not one of them has managed more than a few Test matches.
In fact, since 1991, only four other Black players have represented South Africa - Mfuneko Ngam, Thami Tsolekile, Monde Zondeki, and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
On the other hand, 11 Indians and Coloureds have done so, including Herschelle Gibbs, Hashim Amla, and Vernon Plilander.
In 1998, in an effort to hasten the representation process, South Africa introduced a quota system for club cricket.
The hope was that that system would lead to wider selection in the national team, but by 2007, it was officially removed.
Today, although South Africa are now number one in the Test ranking, as they possibly were in 1970 before they were banned, the quota system is back, as of October 16, and it is back because the people of colour in cricket have not really advanced as far as skill and therefore selection are concerned.
In 1998, the quota system called for four players of colour in each team.
Today, however, it calls for one such player in each team, two in each amateur team, and for teams already with more than one coloured player in the team, it calls for 70 per cent of their games to be reimbursed the amount equivalent to the average contract cost of the qualified players.
As good as it seems, a quota system is not the answer to equal representation, nor is equal representation a fair solution.
Last time the quota system involved the national team, and there were times, at least once, when this caused a problem. This time it does not, and I do not know if the national team will be affected - if two or three players will have to be of colour.
If it does, that would be a pity, even if it can be controlled.
In the days of Apartheid, Black, Indian, or Coloured players could not play with Whites, and they could not be selected to represent their country, the country of their birth, the country in which Blacks represented the majority, by far, of the country's people, and that was bad.
Two wrongs, however, do not add up to one right.
It would only be right if the majority of Blacks, Indians, and Coloureds really loved the game, really played the game regularly, were really good at the game, and were not given equal opportunity to play the game, to match skills with the Whites, and to win a place on the team.
The truth is that South Africa would have been number one in 1970 when the team was selected from Whites only. They are number one in 2013 when the team is selected from everyone. A quota system did not really produce many cricketers of colour after 1998, and the quota system of 2013 is unlikely to produce more cricketers today.
The real reason, at this time, while it may not, is that cricket is not that attractive to the Coloured or the Blacks in South Africa.
I was in Soweto in 1991 when a cricket ground was opened for the residents, when the South African Cricket Union, as it was called then, made an attempt to spread the game, and except for a few who used the opportunity to play the game, the move hardly made a difference.
The truth is that people play sport for different reasons, for entertainment, for self-satisfaction, for supremacy, and for money, and South Africans are no different.
The popular sports in South Africa are cricket, rugby, and football, with the Whites playing mostly cricket and rugby, and the Blacks playing mostly football, and almost like every other country in the world today, including Jamaica, exclusively football.
In 1991, on my first visit to South Africa, I went to a football match. It was the Cup final and the match was between Kaiser Chiefs and Wits University, and what I saw I could not believe: the Chiefs started off with 10 Black players and one White, and Wits with 10 White players and one Black player.
Sport is the embodiment of fairness, fairness begins with equal opportunity, and providing equal opportunity is provided, and is grasped, there is nothing as unfair as selecting a player who does not fit, nothing which makes a player feel as demeaning as being on a team when he knows, like everyone else, that he does not belong, and there is nothing that hinders good team spirit as knowing that someone, a member of a team, does not belong.
On top of it all, how would South Africa like to play England, or Australia, or the West Indies when they are not at full strength - when they are forced to play a team of some of their best and with some, even one, other players.
In a quota system, even the cricketer that the system tries to help, even the one who merits his place, is targeted, or could easily be targeted, as has happened in the past.
Quotas may be good. In fact, they are good in things like education, health, housing, and employment but not in sport. No sportsman, or sportswoman, who loves to compete, to give of his or her best, and to triumph, can support the idea of quotas in sport.
In sport, in professional sport, it is, and it should be, the best versus the best, and nothing should be done to prevent that.