SA cricket on a bumpy wicket

CityPress - - Sport - S’Busiso Mse­leku sm­se­leku@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Sbu_mse­leku

Ihave no in­ten­tion of be­com­ing a cricket writer.

Nei­ther do I have de­signs on the job of our cricket colum­nist, Mr Stu­art Long­bot­tom. How­ever, re­cent events in the sport have prompted this col­umn. I feel obliged to add my two cents’ worth, as th­ese are press­ing is­sues.

Cricket SA (CSA) needs to act promptly and de­ci­sively to pre­vent the sport from find­ing it­self swim­ming in a sim­i­lar if not worse shame than the Han­sie Cronje scan­dal of 2000 and the Ger­ald Ma­jola bonus saga that ended with Ma­jola be­ing fired as CEO in 2012.

Th­ese are some of the re­cent events that got my goat:

In Novem­ber, smack in the middle of the tour to In­dia, a group called Black Crick­eters in Unity wrote a sting­ing let­ter to CSA boss Ha­roon Lor­gat com­plain­ing about black play­ers be­ing se­lected to only be used as “drinks car­ri­ers”.

They con­cluded: “If we are not ready for in­ter­na­tional cricket, stop pick­ing us.”;

In De­cem­ber, the Proteas lost badly to Eng­land in the first test in Dur­ban, putting their num­ber one spot in the world in jeop­ardy;

Jan­uary be­gan with the CSA rop­ing in for­mer Proteas cap­tain Graeme Smith as a con­sul­tant;

Six days later, Hashim Amla dropped a bomb­shell, an­nounc­ing his res­ig­na­tion as test cap­tain af­ter scor­ing a dou­ble cen­tury that so, even af­ter Sports Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula said they should deal with the is­sue as a mat­ter of ur­gency.

The tim­ing of Amla’s res­ig­na­tion raised many ques­tions, about which Lor­gat could only say: “We re­spect Hashim’s de­ci­sion and the man­ner in which he thought about it and then com­mu­ni­cated with me. He still has a huge role to play in shap­ing the suc­cess of our team with­out the need for a lead­er­ship ti­tle. He is just that type of a per­son and we are very for­tu­nate to have him in our sta­ble.” That re­sponse, while diplo­matic, also left much to be de­sired.

Amla’s ut­ter­ances af­ter step­ping down did not sound like those of a man who did so willingly, but more like some­one who felt pushed. He said: “It’s a bit of re­lief,” among other things.

In an­other in­ter­view about Temba Bavuma, who scored his maiden cen­tury in the se­cond test against Eng­land, Amla spoke about “play­ers of colour”.

“Ob­vi­ously, per­son­ally, I know the pres­sure of what play­ers of colour go through when they first come into the setup – cer­tainly in our coun­try,” he said.

“We both have very sim­i­lar ca­reers – the first time we do play in­ter­na­tional cricket, ev­ery­one doubts you. Ei­ther be­cause of the colour of your skin – even though you’ve got the stats to back it up do­mes­ti­cally – ev­ery­body doubts you for var­i­ous rea­sons.”

Aha! So skin colour is still an is­sue within South African cricket? So says some­one who has been at the helm of the Proteas.

Even coach Rus­sell Domingo said Amla did not get the re­spect he de­served. Was this be­cause of his in­abil­ity or his skin colour?

And now the game is em­broiled in a match-fix­ing scan­dal in which for­mer open­ing bats­man and spin­ner Gu­lam Bodi has been fin­gered for cheat­ing and may face crim­i­nal charges.

Wick­et­keeper Thami Tsolek­ile has also been men­tioned as one of the play­ers un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Though only Bodi and Tsolek­ile have been named, spec­u­la­tion is that more play­ers are in­volved in this scan­dal.

Some fin­gers have been pointed at the CSA to al­lege that while they have adopted the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil’s anti-cor­rup­tion poli­cies, they have been lax in en­sur­ing play­ers abide by them strictly.

Mbalula has ac­cused the CSA of not act­ing prop­erly in deal­ing with the Bodi case.

He said: “If they said th­ese guys have done match-fix­ing, they must in­ves­ti­gate and bring the proof. To name play­ers with­out hav­ing con­cluded is ex­er­cis­ing prej­u­dice.”

Sweep­ing all its prob­lems un­der the car­pet in­stead of deal­ing with it de­ci­sively could prove to be the CSA’s un­do­ing.

PHOTO: FRAN­COIS NEL / IDI VIA GETTY IM­AGES

REIGN­ING CHAM­PI­ONS Dubai in 2014

SA af­ter win­ning the ICC Un­der-19 Cricket World Cup Su­per League in

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