The punishment should fit the crime

Ball-tampering is a serious issue in cricket.  After match-fixing it is the sport’s biggest curse.  The plan that Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft concocted last Saturday at Newlands in the third Test against South Africa to alter the condition of the ball should therefore be condemned in the strongest possible terms. It is cheating and must be punished. In 2013 South African captain Faf du Plessis was at the centre of a ball-tampering scandal in a Test match against Pakistan.  (At the time Du Plessis was not the captain.)  He was caught rubbing the ball on a zipper on his trousers.  Du Plessis admitted guilt.  The match referee awarded Pakistan five penalty runs and fined Du Plessis 50% of his match fee, but there was no suspension. At Newlands Bancroft was caught rubbing the ball on a piece of sandpaper; he was doing so with the blessing of … Continue reading

Is the match referee still relevant?

It is good news for South Africa and Test cricket that Kagiso Rabada’s appeal was successfully upheld and he can now play in the remaining two Tests. I am sure even the Australians will be satisfied with this decision as they will want to play the best South African team that can be selected. Winning the series without the number one Test bowler would indeed be a hollow victory for the Australians. However, Rabada’s successful appeal against the decision made by match referee Jeff Crowe raises the question if the match referee is still relevant? Cricket has now handed the disciplinary decisions to the legal fraternity and the match referee’s decision is no longer worth going through the process. I am not sure if Crowe will be too animated with his decision being overturned by a legal man. Bringing in the high profile legal experts has escalated disciplinary decisions to … Continue reading

Marrying T20 cricket and television

Cricket is by its very nature a long game.  It is one of the reasons why, for example, the sport has never appealed to the American pioneering psyche. The advent of T20 cricket changed all that.  All of a sudden the sport had a shortened format that could compete with all the other major team sports in terms of television time and fans’ attention spans.  Capitalizing on this opportunity and making cricket commercially viable as opposed to other sports has become the biggest driver of cricket. Three major events in 2017 highlighted the importance of a successful marriage between T20 cricket and television for cricket’s commercial future:  Firstly, the announcement in April of a newT20 league (still unnamed) that the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will launch in 2020.  Secondly, the announcement in September by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) of a massive new broadcast … Continue reading

Is Australian sledging fair play?

Now that the dust has settled on the sledging problems after the first Test in Durban between South Africa and Australia, it once again raises the question, is sledging in the spirit of the game? The answer is a definite NO, as sledging is nothing more than an Australian concept to intimidate the other cricket playing nations. Faf du Plessis is right when he says that the Australian team run around like a pack of hyenas looking to attack the opposition. In recent years the Australians’ sledging has threatened to lead to physical confrontations, as we saw at Kingsmead the past weekend. The words exchanged between David Warner and Quinton de Kock nearly led to blows with Warner having to be restrained by his team-mates. There are many of these examples in the past where Australian players verbally abused the opposition and when they returned the compliment, the Australians could … Continue reading

No sport like cricket

In a world where elite sport is becoming an increasingly homogenised product, the breadth of differences cricket offers in its many bilateral series is the thing that could set it apart from any other sport or sport event (with the exception perhaps of golf). In three areas, elite sport and sport events have become carbon copies – we see it over and over every week, every year.  Firstly, from a commercial point of view, international events like the Olympic Games, the various World Cups (soccer, rugby, cricket, etc.) and the UEFA Champions League (to name but a few) all have the same look and feel no matter in which stadium it is staged.  When one watches old footage of these events from the 60’s, 70’s and even into the 80’s, the first thing that strikes you is the range of different sponsors and advertisers at each event.  If it weren’t … Continue reading

Cricket South Africa look to salvage T20 League

Cricket South Africa (CSA) is in the process of trying to salvage their T20 cricket tournament after the disasters of the cancelled T20 Global League. They are busy vacillating between the Indian model where all franchises are privately owned and the Australian model where Cricket Australia owns the franchises. South Africa as a cricketing nation is not commercially comparable to either country, but the Australian model will be a better fit. South Africa should have no more than six franchise teams as the capacity to support more teams both commercially and in terms of venues and player resources will place the whole system under strain. More than six teams will only add to the cost and will not generate additional revenue. In fact they will become a liability financially and also on the field of play. The player resources will be crucial for this venture to work with regard to … Continue reading

Time to appreciate Virat Kohli

On a cold Saturday afternoon in August 1983 in a Currie Cup match between Free State and Northern Transvaal at the old Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, a little-known Free State flanker, Jannie Els, knocked the legendary Springbok flyhalf, Naas Botha, lights out.  Outside Pretoria everybody loved to hate Botha.  So the following Saturday when I went to a Currie Cup match at Newlands (where Botha was also generally detested), some entrepreneur was selling bumper stickers outside the stadium proclaiming “I love Jannie Els”.  The bumper stickers sold like hot cakes. The moral of the story is that, I believe, South African sport fans have an innate inability to appreciate greatness if it’s not their own, whether internationally or domestically between provincial teams. So it has showed again in comments in the media and on social networks about the Indian captain, Virat Kohli.  From the day Kohli arrived in our … Continue reading

India looking to finish strong

The current Indian tour of South Africa has been the most competitive of all the tours undertaken by them to South Africa. They have developed into a world class team and are ever-improving playing away from India. They have an outstanding captain in Virat Kohli who averages over 50 in all three formats of international cricket. He might be a character you either love or hate, but he brings a winning energy and passion to the Indian team. The Test series won by South Africa was a lot closer than it looked on the surface. No doubt Kohli will look back on the Test series and think that India has lost an opportunity. At Newlands he will think that they should have reached the target of 192 after a solid second innings start. In the Centurion Test he will think if they got a lead of around 70 and Cheteshwar … Continue reading

New sponsorship deals

                              Two international players represented by One World of Sport recently signed new long-term sponsorship deals with two global giants of the cricket equipment market. Proteas all-rounder Vernon Philander will play with SS Ton until at least December 2019.  Philander will be the only current South African international player sponsored by SS Ton and he will be supported directly out of Meerut, India by the brand’s holding company, Sareen Sports Industries. Philander first major international series with his new sponsors was the recently completed Test series against India.  He promptly repaid SS Ton by being announced as the Player of the Series. Former Proteas batsman Stiaan van Zyl, who now plays county cricket for Sussex, committed himself to the well-known English batmakers Gray Nicolls until December 2019.  When with Sussex from April to September, Van Zyl … Continue reading

The IPL as a barometer for South African cricket

The 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, the eleventh of its kind, happened in Bangalore, India this past weekend with all the usual razzmatazz and hype one would expect of one of the world’s top sports leagues. The first IPL tournament was staged in 2008.  One of the cornerstones of the fledgling competition was that it would be a tripartite collaboration between India, Australia and South Africa.  Out of this collaboration the Champions’ League T20 was born.  The tournament ran from 2009 to 2014.  It featured the top T20 sides from the major Test-playing countries, but mostly from India, Australia and South Africa.  For South Africa, the collaboration had three further beneficial outcomes – it hosted the 2010 & 2012 Champions’ League T20 as well as the 2009 IPL.  After the 2014 Champions’ League T20, India cancelled the tournament because of limited public following.  With that South Africa’s role in … Continue reading