What a bungle in the lead-up to the English tour
While Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) spectacular plunge has completely eclipsed the upcoming Test series against England, that prospect is suddenly looming as large as the ice berg that sank the Titanic.
And, quite ironically, despite all the other wrongdoings by the suspended Thabang Moroe, the amateurish circumstances surrounding our illogical approach to this series alone should have been enough to remove him and the rest of the inept board.
For just a minute, forget about the serious stuff.
Those things which saw the Cape Cobras being dragged to court over a quota fracas, the players themselves dragging CSA to court over the proposed restructuring of the domestic landscape, players considering striking over an image rights breach, CSA ignoring the players as a major stakeholder, a national coach being appointed without consulting the national captain and the national team’s only real sponsor pulling out.
We would think planning a cricket season is one of the most straightforward things to do.
If you use, let’s say common sense then you would start with the big things and work back.
Analysing the incoming tours would surely suggest England playing four Tests here is a big deal.
The Barmy Army is expected to spent enough money on beer in January to defer load shedding by a full month, and the series carries Test Championship points, of which we had absolutely none the @jacovanderm last time I checked.
So, the fact that our powers that be – or were – planned those four Tests on popular dates at the best venues does indicate they must have had some idea of the magnitude of the event.
But that is were it stops, unfortunately.
In an ideal world, or by just using common sense, you would think that South Africa’s premier first-class competition – the proudly unsponsored, hence the name – Four Day Franchise Series,
would be utilised to the best possible extent in preparing our troops for the international battle ahead.
I have no qualification in sports or event planning, but that would seem like an easy thing to do.
Taking into account the first two Tests will take place over the course of 13 days from Boxing Day to January 7, you would ideally want your players to have an extended run in the middle in the build-up, like three to four matches on the trot.
Or even two to three matches, during which you could gauge your current squad’s form and see who else is sticking up their hand for selection. Have a bit of a national camp and then a few matches again to give them momentum into the Tests.
We managed to mess it up.
In October, when the Proteas got pummelled 3-0 in India, every franchise played four matches without the national players.
Then our attention shifted to Twenty20 cricket for over a month, with the Mzansi Super League, and only one round of first-class fixtures remains before the Boxing Day Test.
England have just completed a Test series in New Zealand, are in camp in Stellenbosch and have two warm-up matches planned.
The Proteas, still mentally scared from India, have had no first-class matches for two months, have players recovering from injuries and until a few days ago, we didn’t even known who was going to select the squad.
The people who signed off on this arrangement should be banned from cricket for life.