What a bun­gle in the lead-up to the English tour

The Citizen (KZN) - - Sport - THREE OFF Jaco van der Merwe

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.