SA cricket on a bumpy wicket
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.
REIGNING CHAMPIONS Dubai in 2014
SA after winning the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup Super League in