Interview with Omar Henry

Omar Henry, former left-arm spin bowler for South Africa, and the first non-white player to represent the Proteas, was interviewed at Newlands, Cape Town during the Supersport match between Western Province and Natal on the irc channel #cricket. The interview was conducted in two sessions on 8 and 9 March 1997. The interview was conducted on the irc channel #cricket. Omar was assisted in the interview by Sarah Chesterfield (grimmett on irc).

Part One

shariq: Omar very straight up question - How did it feel to be colored player in an all white squad before abolition of apartheid?

OmarHenry: First of all I look at myself as a human being. Secondly I believe that apartheid was a temporary thing and a man-made law. Thirdly I never felt inferior towards a white man.

igloo: Omar: Can you describe the hurdles you faced as a Black cricketer in a racist society?

1) it was a mindset
2) an attitude
3) how ppl were brought up- or indoctrinated.
I combatted discrimination where I encountered it, through my belief in my ability in what I can do best - play cricket, and that there is no difference between me and any other human being.

shariq: Omar so you did not get the feeling that you were selected over a more deserving "white" player because you were colored and your selection was purely cosmetic?

OmarHenry: no, because, my statistics of my entire FC career, bowling-wise - I have taken the 4th most FC wickets in SA, and as a lower -order batsman/all-rounder, my average equals or betters all the other all-rounders who played fc cricket.

stonefly: omar what was the biggest moment of your life/career?

OmarHenry: stonefly: to represent my country and break down those racial barriers of the past through positive contributions

shariq: Omar how did it feel to represent SA vs the rebel tours? Was it a feeling of pride or was it a feeling of sorrow because you guys could not exhibit your talents on the world stage

OmarHenry: shariq - as far as the rebel tours were concerned - for me it was a case of international cricketers to come and experience the start of the entire different mindset of the cricket fraternity in SA, although the govt's policies regarding apartheid were still in place

waughzone: Are you involved still at any level with Scottish cricket?

OmarHenry: WZ: only on a consultant basis as far as improvement of young players are concerned - allowing them the opportunity to come and play cricket in South Africa

stonefly: omar u had the full support of your teammates?

OmarHenry: stonefly - yes I had the full support of my teammates

waughzone: Were there any recriminations\threats made against you when you played 'white' cricket? Is there any lingering resentment in the SA cricket community between those who played SACOS sport in the apartheid days and persons such as yourself?

OmarHenry: WZ - yes there were threats made against me, as well as recriminations. Yes, there are still some lingering resentments, and it is something that needs to be addressed for SA cricket fraternity to go forward

igloo: Omar: were there threats made by whites when you played mainstream cricket?

OmarHenry: No, there were never threats made against me by whites, although, there were some that felt threatened by my presence

shariq: Omar who is the greatest batsman you have ever bowled to?

OmarHenry: Shariq: the greatest batsmen I have bowled to: Graeme Pollock and Sunil Gavaskar

shariq: Sunil Gavaskar????? When was this?

OmarHenry: Shariq - I played for Scotland against India in Aberdeen, just after they won the World Cup

OmarHenry: Thank you very much for those intelligent questions - I promise to return at a later stage

shariq: Thanks Omar

Beauty hi, who is that OMAR HERY

shariq: Omar Henry - Probably the best SA offie after Hugh Tayfield

waughzone: and WP legend!!!

Part two

Azzie: Omar: Are you playing any cricket nowadays?

OmarHenry: no - just for the masters. Coaching at the University of Stellenbosch

Rick: Omar: what was the standard of cricket like in Scotland when you played there?

OmarHenry: rick - the standard wasn't high. It was the conditions that were very tough

sajjid: Omar ..did you expect RSA to take the kind of drubbing that they did against AUS?

OmarHenry: sajjid - Yes, I did. After commentating the match Aus vs WP I was convinced that SA would have to play out of their skin to beat the Aussies - because aus were a far better disciplined and professional side than ours in Test Cricket

Azzie: Omar: Some people have commented that RSAs weakness in the spin-bowling department were exposed by that match? Would you agree and if so who are the best candidates for the future?

OmarHenry: Yes we do have a weakness in terms of spin bowling. The reason is that we didn't get enough exposure to batting against spin on wickets that are conducive to spin bowling in our own country. The best candidates to bat against spinners - we haven't got many until such time as our situation changes within the country, ie the bounce of the pitches as well as the amount of assistance spin wise. Young spinners: Paul Adams (obviously), Nicky Boje. Claude Henderson, Mark Davis.

Azzie: Omar: Do you think that in the next test match RSA should go with two spinners? Especially if the Port Elizabeth pitch is going to be as slow as reports seem to indicate?

OmarHenry: It depends on our batting strength, because you first need the runs on the board

Azzie: Omar: What would be your ideal batting lineup for the next test?

OmarHenry: Hudson, bacher, kallis, cullinan, gibbs, cronje, mcmillan, richardson, donald, symcox/adams, pollock

Azzie: Omar: So you'd have to drop Klusener and Kirsten in that case?

OmarHenry: yes -mcmillan's experience and the fact that he is the best all-rounder in world cricket at the moment, and kirsten because he is out of nick in test cricket at the moment.

Rohan: Kirsten's last 14 innings,,, 476 runs.. Hudsons last 14 innings... 476 runs... :-)

Rohan: ok.. pitches question.. Is a pitch like the one India encountered at Kingsmead really suitable for Test match cricket - and, are the Aussies going to run into anything like that? Or will it be another low, slow PE wicket ?

OmarHenry: Rohan: q1 - no, it is not suitable for test cricket IMO

OmarHenry: Rohan: q2 no, the aussies won't run into anything like that

OmarHenry: Rohan:q3 PE will have a little more bouncy pitch, but still slow

Koop: Do you think more tests against tougher competition would have helped SA?

OmarHenry: Koop: yes, it would have. It would have been some sort of measure of their ability

Azzie: Omar: Who do you rate as the current best bowler in the world?

OmarHenry: Azzie: difficult to say, but this oke McGrath certainly looked on song. Ambrose is still a threat to be reckoned with, while the two pakistanis are keeping a very low profile, and Donald would have to prove against the Aussies that he can claim a stake in the top spot.

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Date-stamped : 28 Feb1999 - 11:25