What’s the culture of SA cricket and what would we want to change?
● Hard on the outside, soft on the inside? Focused too intently on winning and not on transforming? The other way round?
Complacently expecting to keep attracting young talent despite the better options offered in other careers, including outside sport?
A governance and financial mess? What would we find out if SA cricket took the kind of withering look at itself that the game in Australia has in its “culture review”?
First we’ll need to establish what we think the culture of cricket is in SA. Or what we’re willing to accept it is after careful discussion and, probably, negotiation. Then, following a similar set of processes, we’ll have to decide what we want to change. And how.
Little comes easily in a country as willfully divided as ours, where the cricket-minded haven’t quite got their heads around what the Aussies are doing.
“When it happened we thought that was harsh on the players ’cause there’s been so many players who have been in similar boats,” Faf du Plessis said in Adelaide this week when he was asked, by Australian reporters, about the fairness of the long bans Cricket Australia slapped on Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft for ball-tampering during the Newlands Test in March.
“But I wasn’t [in Australia] to understand how the people were affected by it or offended by it. The backlash that we saw in SA was massive.
The reaction to what the Aussies got up to was outrageous
“We could see it’s probably bigger in Australia than it has been or will be anywhere else in the world.”
Not least in SA, where Du Plessis’s own convictions for ball-tampering never raised anything like the stink that still follows Smith, Warner and Bancroft.
For Australians to claim innocent shock at the suddenly revealed awfulness of their cricket team is akin to being horrified at the confirmation of a partner’s affair having chosen to ignore, for years, lipstick on collars.
But the reaction to what the Aussies got up to with a little sandpaper and a lot of lying was outrageous. Why should the prime minister have cared? Why should sponsorship deals have been cancelled?
Still, Du Plessis might have thought twice about slobbering heavily minted spit on the ball in Hobart in 2016 had Cricket SA (CSA) taken a more proactive and supportive attitude to him rubbing the ball on his zip in Dubai in 2013.
Similarly, had CSA let Kagiso Rabada serve the punishment he had earned for shoulder charging Smith during the St George’s Park Test last season — instead of spending whatever it takes to get Dali Mpofu in the fast bowler’s corner — maybe he wouldn’t have got into Chris Lynn’s face in Adelaide on Friday.
A healthier culture would have dealt better with both Du Plessis and Rabada. One day, maybe.
The Leading Edge Telford Vice