Fantastic India

Test cricket is alive and well after the recent Test series in Australia. India retained the Border/Gavaskar Trophy in the four-match Test series. India needs to be congratulated, not only on winning the Test series but also for the character they showed during some difficult times on this tour. This series, together with the 2005 Ashes series in England, are the best Test series in the modern era. India confirmed that they are a world-class team across all three formats of the game on all the continents. Having won two successive Test series in Australia, their international rankings have finally laid to rest the belief that they are only a force in sub-continent conditions. The way they came back from Adelaide after being bowled out for 36 and their captain, Virat Kohli, leaving the tour for personal reasons, speaks volumes for the character of this team. Indian teams of the… Continue reading

The Proteas’ batting woes

The Proteas comfortably beat Sri Lanka (as they should, with all due respect) in their recently completed two-match Test series.  But to be the best in the world, it is the likes of Australia, India, New Zealand and Pakistan they should be measured against. On Boxing Day last year, three Test matches started: South Africa vs Sri Lanka at SuperSport Park in Centurion, Australia vs India in Melbourne, and New Zealand vs Pakistan at Mount Maunganui. A striking feature of the top six batsmen from South Africa, Australia, India, New Zealand and Pakistan in these matches, is their comparative Test career statistics.  The numbers tell their own story… In no order, the collective number of Test matches played by the top six were 179, 164, 239, 356 and 138.  Guess which number was South Africa’s? The Proteas’ top six for the SuperSport Park encounter consisted of Dean Elgar (63 caps), Aiden Markram… Continue reading

2020 – A disastrous year for CSA

2020 has been a disastrous year for cricket in South Africa thanks to Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) incompetency. It will go down in the annals of history as the beginning of the end of South African cricket, unless the game is de-politicised in the future. If there were a reward for a sporting body “Mampara of the Year” they would win it hands down. It is amazing how a globally respected cricketing body for decades can actually deteriorate to the degree that CSA have. Sorry, as a South African cricketing person, I have to say that they are nothing but a disgrace. There is absolutely no leadership at either Board or professional levels. During 2020 CSA had no less than three Acting Chief Executive Officers and two Presidents. This gave the Government the opportunity to interfere in cricket’s affairs. Besides the Minster of Sport taking CSA into unchartered territory of… Continue reading

Being a club pro in England in 2021

The role of the club pro in England, and how it is perceived by English clubs in general, is evolving fast. First, some historical context:  The English club pro was introduced to the game in the late 1800’s.  In the industrial heartland, the Birmingham League set the trend and were quickly followed by Lancashire and Bradford Leagues.  Cricket clubs were extensions of the industries in the area, run as businesses.  In a time when mobility (no cars) and leisure options (no television, no mobile phones) were limited, the local cricket club was a focal point for the community.  Throw a club pro into the mix and you really have a social magnet.  With a decent salary from the local factory, supplemented by the traditional ‘collection hat’ doing the round in the pub on a Saturday night, the club pro was well off.  In 1901, the right-arm opening bowler, Sydney Barnes,… Continue reading

Cricket politically bullied

On the day that the Proteas lost the last T20 international by 9 wickets at Newlands and the series 3-0 to England, Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced that they would be increasing quotas in the national team from the 2022/23 season. These quotas would allow a maximum of only four white players and a minimum of four black African players per match. Cricket is being bullied by the politicians and the cricket illiterate; this needs to end before it is too late. Already it is late in the day for South African cricket. These quotas take no cognisance of any cricket fundamentals like form, injuries, balance, format, conditions and winning, and make no cricketing sense. Why has CSA become such a political organisation whose only objective is the politicization of the game and social engineering? The reason is that the decision-makers are not cricketing people, but quasi politicians, at best,… Continue reading

America, cricket’s sleeping giant?

Last month USA Cricket launched an ambitious foundational plan, outlining its vision to become a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) by 2030.  Along the way USA Cricket also want to build five international standard stadiums, set up a T20 competition with global reach and appeal, and push for the sport’s inclusion at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games.  Lofty ideals if ever there were. Cricket in America has a chequered recent history.  The current national governing body was only established in 2017 following an acrimonious legal battle which ended in the expulsion of the USA Cricket Association from the ICC after more than 50 years.  USA Cricket elected an executive from baseball’s San Francisco 49ers, Paraag Marathe, as chairman and recruited the ICC’s former chief operating officer, Iain Higgins, as CEO.  The head office was also moved to San Francisco. Predictively USA Cricket is banking on the… Continue reading

Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates

The thirteenth Indian Premier League (IPL) has concluded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) despite the Covid-19 threat. This was the second time in the history of the IPL that the tournament took place outside India. The first was in South Africa in 2008 because the event clashed with national elections in India. This time it was because of the high Covid-19 infection rate in India. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) must be congratulated for successfully staging the IPL during these difficult times in the world. The games were played in empty stadiums, but the strategic placing of advertisements, banners with crowds and the audio surround-sound ensured that the atmosphere was outstanding. The IPL is known for huge spectator attendances and these innovations went a long way to making the tournament a true spectacle. The television viewership was not negatively affected because of the lack of… Continue reading

New law could be catastrophic for sport

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) recently published draft legislation that will force television stations to broadcast for free to the broader public all sports events that are of “national importance”.  In terms of the proposed legislation, Icasa will have the right to decide which sports events will be deemed to be of “national importance”. If this becomes law it will have far-reaching consequences for national sports bodies, individual sportsmen and -women, sponsors, and the grassroots development of sport across the country. The most shocking aspect of the draft legislation is that Icasa appears to have no concept of broadcasting rights.  Icasa apparently wants to ensure that big international sports events like the World Cups in soccer, rugby and cricket, the Olympic Games, and all overseas matches of the Springboks and Proteas are shown free on the SABC channels.  The broadcasting rights to these events are worth billions of Rands… Continue reading

Only piles should stop CSA members sitting through a game

Now that Cricket South Africa’s board members have all resigned under duress, I would like to suggest that their replacements first pass a transformation test before being appointed. They would have to prove that their knowledge of the game was transformed. They are apparently experts on the other meaning of transformation, though I’m not sure about that, either. Nine out of 10 cricket council members are black, five out of six franchise coaches are black, and 52 of CSA’s 64 permanent staff are black. That’s pretty black in my book, even if we haven’t yet been totally transformed into cricketing All Blacks. But some are still not satisfied, the least satisfied being Dr Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw, who has just got the chop but believes people like her should have a say in team selection, even if they aren’t mad about cricket and don’t really understand it. She said: “What worries me… Continue reading

Cricket South Africa no more than an employment bureau

Cricket South Africa today is no more than an employment bureau with very little respect for standards, outcomes and being cost effective. They recently announced through the media that they have 64 employees of which 52 are black. This was part of an ad hoc media release on their transformation success at staff levels when they found themselves under pressure from both the government and public. This number excludes expensive consultants that they also make use of, and all the employees in the 13 provinces. Reading this media release took me down memory lane to 1984 when I was appointed the first full-time employee of the Griqualand West Cricket Union, today called Northern Cape. I was the second full-time administrator appointed in South African cricket after Dr Ali Bacher, who about three months earlier had been appointed as Managing Director of the Transvaal Cricket Council, today called the Gauteng Cricket… Continue reading