Ruthless streak needed
“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.”