Ruth­less streak needed

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - LUNGANI ZAMA

“I DON’T know.”

Those words, or vari­a­tions of them, have been heard far too read­ily from South African cricket’s cho­sen ones over the past 48 hours.

If we were deal­ing with foot­ball’s top-ranked na­tion, or the All Blacks tum­bling out of a tour­na­ment this early, this meekly, heads would surely roll.

Re­mem­ber Eng­land, that laugh­ing stock of years past? They had a dis­as­trous 2015 World Cup, home long be­fore SA’s tear­ful semi-fi­nal exit.

While SA mourned, Eng­land rolled up their sleeves and got back to basics. They stripped their diesel en­gine, and fit­ted in new parts that were more in tune with an evolv­ing for­mat.

There needs to be an ad­mis­sion of guilt, a recog­ni­tion of the fact that they have in­dulged cer­tain play­ers and play­ing styles for too long.

It is a team and squad in third gear, which is fine for the lull be­tween tour­na­ments.

That is when SA look most dom­i­nant, when other na­tions are build­ing anew, blood­ing play­ers who show prom­ise for fu­ture events.

SA’s top brass need to look for fresh ideas. Russell Domingo doesn’t sound very keen on con­tin­u­ing for much longer, so that is a good place to start.

The next man at the helm must be able to con­front and chal­lenge his play­ers, hold them as ac­count­able as other stars around the world are.

“I don’t know” is not a good enough answer in In­dia, Aus­tralia or Eng­land.

There, if you don’t know, then you’ve got to go.

It shouldn’t be a good enough answer in SA, ei­ther.

Af­ter so many short­com­ings at tour­na­ments, it is time to try and find some­one who will have an­swers.

The 2019 World Cup is two years away, but other ri­vals have al­ready shown that two years is enough time to build a new en­gine that goes like the wind.

But the change must be im­me­di­ate. It must be sweep­ing. Play­ers who have learnt to win tro­phies, such as those of the Ti­tans, must be en­cour­aged.

There must be clear bound­aries be­tween for­mats, be­cause too many play­ers who are in ev­ery squad are start­ing to wear a ragged look.

It is ap­par­ent that there have been too many nice de­ci­sions made in SA cricket.

If play­ers un­der­stand that there is a ruth­less streak off the field, it may yet re­mind them to play with a bit more con­vic­tion on it.

Con­sid­er­ing their re­sources, their records and their riches, what the Proteas pro­duced in the ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy was a na­tional em­bar­rass­ment.

And there must be con­se­quences. Will there be? “I don’t know.”

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