Bumper cricket season in store

South African cricket fans can look forward to a bumper season of international and domestic cricket, with a particular highlight the inaugural T20 Global League (T20GL). The season has already officially started, albeit rather low key, with the third edition of the Africa T20 Cup.  The first round of the competition, won by Namibia, was somewhat overshadowed by the T20GL draft but hopefully the competition will heat up over the final two weekends.  The previous two seasons were the launch pad for the careers of Lungi Ngidi (who has since gone on to represent South Africa) and Patrick Kruger. The domestic 4-day competition, the Sunfoil Series, starts on 19 September.  Cricket South Africa (CSA) has broken with the tradition of having these games played from a Thursday to a Sunday.  First-class was traditionally played over weekends, but that came from an era when it still attracted good crowds.  As a … Continue reading

Two further additions to the T20 circuit

South Africa and Afghanistan have launched their own T20 tournaments that will take place between now and the end of the year. World cricket now has seven T20 tournaments and England will be added to this list in 2020. This will leave only New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe of the full nations of the International Cricket Council (ICC) without a global T20 tournament. International cricket and the global tournaments need the best players in the world to be marketable and commercially viable. This raises the question, can the two co-exist together successfully in the interests of cricket or will there be a casualty, and who will that casualty be? The Indian Premier League is played in a window when there is little or no international cricket, so no trends emerge from this tournament. The Big Bash in Australia is the best barometer to see if international cricket and global … Continue reading

T20GL draft a big success

The draft for the inaugural T20 Global League (T20GL) took place in Cape Town last Sunday.  It was an event of the highest quality in all aspects and the hosts, Cricket South Africa (CSA), must be commended for it. The eight teams’ two marquee players (one international and one South African) were announced at earlier events.  The aim of the draft was for each team to pick sixteen players to make up the rest of their squads.  From a pure cricketing point of view, this was the first really serious business for the teams and the T20GL in general. Overall, the seriousness of the event was very well counter-balanced with light-hearted moments and short interviews.  In this regard the masters of ceremonies, Dan Nicholl and Crystal Arnold, have to be congratulated.  The draft could easily have become robotic and strictly business (much like the draft for the Caribbean Premier League), … Continue reading

Is there still a place for the Currie Cup?

After six rounds of the Currie Cup one needs to ask the question is there still a place for the oldest rugby competition in world rugby? The once famous competition’s profile is almost non-existent with poor crowd attendances and television audiences, low media exposure and players who have no profile. The Currie Cup is no more than club rugby of years gone by. With the Free State Cheetahs and Eastern Province Kings now playing in the European Pro14 from September, the two provinces need two teams to meet their Currie Cup commitments as the two competitions overlap. The Free State Cheetahs don’t even have one decent team never mind two, and the Eastern Province Kings don’t even have enough players and need to loan from the Lions. The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has officially stated that the Pro14 will take preference over the Currie Cup. One can only term … Continue reading

The problem with Dale Steyn

The Proteas bowlers were about the only players who could still hold their heads high after the recent humiliating Test series defeat at the hands of England.  Provided they are fit, there would be no reason to start the two-match Test series against Bangladesh in September/October with any other fast bowling combination than the trio of Morné Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada. It was therefore interesting to see Dale Steyn earlier this week dropping a massive hint that he is ready to play again.  Posting a picture of him celebrating a wicket with his trademark fist-pump, Steyn took to Instagram to deliver a simple message: “The wait is over.” Steyn is one of the greatest fast bowlers the world has ever seen.  Full stop.  He has taken 417 wickets in 85 Test matches at an average of 22.30.  That puts him in tenth position on the all-time list for … Continue reading

The rugby administrators are colour blind

The rugby administrators have become colour blind and can’t see that all the yellow and red cards are destroying the integrity of the game. The player’s safety is undoubtedly the most important aspect of rugby but the matter needs to be addressed to protect both the integrity of rugby and the players. It no longer is a case of the best team winning the match, but which teams concedes the least cards at the discretion of the referee.  The Super Rugby play-offs are the best example of how cards have influenced the results of games. The Lions were heavily favoured by the yellow cards in both the quarter- and semi-final matches. In fact, it would be fair to say that the two yellow cards against the Sharks and Hurricanes secured them a final berth. In the final it was ironic that the very same system, a red card in the … Continue reading

A sure threat to the sustainability of professional sport

As if to drive home the point of last week’s E-column (“Is professional sport sustainable?”), French football giants Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) are poised to sign Brazilian forward Neymar from Spanish champions Barcelona for a world record transfer fee of €220 million (or just over R3,5 billion – let that sink in for a moment…). This imminent transfer more than doubles the previous record.  Neymar will complete the move on Friday after he personally paid the transfer fee to Barcelona to trigger a so-called buyout clause in his contract.  According to various media reports, Barcelona confirmed that Neymar’s lawyers “made the payment of €220 million in the player’s name” to release him from the five-year contract he signed just last year. In Paris the news was met with great excitement.  The leading French daily, Le Parisien, devoted the first five pages of its Thursday issue to Neymar’s impending arrival. Even the … Continue reading

Is professional sport sustainable?

In December 2002 the Australian-born Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corporation, wrote a very interesting column on his thoughts about professional sport as we knew it then. He was critical of the way professional sport was being managed and its economic demands on society. His punchline was that it was difficult to see sport surviving the professional era. This was interesting coming from a man who had a vast investment in professional sport through his media empire. At first I thought he was being hard on professional sport, but as the years have passed there is no doubt that there are signs he could be correct and that professional sport is becoming a monster in certain areas. The honour of playing for your country or province and representing your community no longer exists today. Communities and fans today are irrelevant in professional sport as it is about creating wealth for … Continue reading

The art of batting and T20 cricket

The Proteas’ drubbing of England in the second Test Match at Trent Bridge in Nottingham was absolutely remarkable.  On 9 July their heads hung in shame at Lord’s after a 211-rum thrashing at the hands of new captain Joe Root’s England side.  Eight days later, the shoe was on the other foot and England received an even bigger hiding at Trent Bridge – by 340 runs. England’s performance was roundly criticised by all and sundry.  The back page of the Daily Mail the following day screamed “You Shockers!”  Former international players like Nasser Hussain, Ian Botham and David Lloyd harshly criticised England’s batsmen in particular.  Michael Vaughan even got involved in a war of words with Root.  According to Vaughan the way England had batted showed “a lack of respect about what the Test game is,” to which Root responded: “I think that’s very unfair. To be honest, I can’t … Continue reading

Lions tour of New Zealand was iconic

The British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand was iconic. It must be the most difficult tour any international team has ever undertaken. They played ten matches winning five of them, losing three with two draws. The statistics do not do justice to the tour, as the All Blacks are probably the best international team the world has ever seen. Also, the Lions played the five franchises and not the provinces as in the past. Importantly they drew the series with the All Blacks and became only the second Lions team not to lose a series in New Zealand in 129 years. The Lions of 1971, captained by John Dawes, is the only Lions team to have won a series in New Zealand. Warren Gatland must be given full credit for managing the Lions through what was a high profile and demanding tour on the field. It could have … Continue reading