Will international and professional sport be resumed before 2021?

The recent cancellation of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, scheduled for the last week in June, raises the question if sport events and tournaments will be able to resume in 2020? The cancellation of Wimbledon is just another high profile event that joins the long list of sport events that have already been cancelled for 2020 and rescheduled for 2021, like the Olympic Games. The cricket world is still hopeful that the coronavirus will clear so that the T20 World Cup, the Indian Premier League, County cricket and other cricket can still take place this year. Rugby and football too are hoping the same so that their codes can complete competitions and scheduled sport can resume. Whether this is realistic or not only time will tell. There is no doubt that the sports industry is facing some serious challenges. Former Australian captain, Ian Chappell, wrote a column on Cricinfo stating that… Continue reading

Domestic restructuring taking shape

After earlier this month rescinding its decision to amalgamate the six franchises and thirteen provinces into twelve professional teams, Cricket South Africa (CSA) this week announced a new domestic playing structure for franchise and provincial cricket for the 2020/21 season.  In essence, the 2020/21 season will have the same number of teams but fewer matches. In a press release that accompanied the announcement, CSA said that there were five primary objectives with the restructuring.  Two of these objectives were the reduction of competition costs and providing “meaningful and commercially attractive content for franchises and provinces”.  It is unfortunate, however, that the lifting of the standards of domestic cricket was not one of these objectives. Cost-saving and other financial austerity measures were inevitable after the rampant squandering of CSA’s resources during the Moroe-era.  Something had to be done.  Curtailing first-class cricket will save costs, but whether it is the best thing… Continue reading

Will cricket survive the coronavirus?

The coronavirus pandemic that has engulfed the world is not only a threat to the human race and the world economy but to cricket as well. Most of the tournaments and tours have been either cancelled or suspended like the Indian Premier League (IPL), Pakistan Super League, England tour to Sri Lanka and all cricket in the southern hemisphere. The IPL start has been rescheduled to 18 April and the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will probably delay the start of the County season till the middle of May. These are two very high profile cricket events. If they are cancelled or rescheduled, both cricket and the players around the world will be badly affected. If the IPL were to be cancelled, the Board of Control for Cricket India will lose about $750 million. Even they can’t afford this to happen. English cricket through international and county cricket are… Continue reading

Proteas ODI team on the right track

Who would’ve thought that from being 48 for 3 batting first in the first ODI against Australia, the Proteas would go on to complete a 3 – 0 series whitewash? It was a remarkable comeback from a side that has endured a tough time since September last year when they toured India.  Across all the three formats, the Australian series was their seventh of the 2019/20 season.  In the previous six, the Proteas were comprehensively outplayed by India (T20 and Test series), England (Test, ODI and T20 series) and Australia (T20 series). Sandwiched between the losses to India and England were all the off-field politics at Cricket South Africa (CSA) too.  This led to among other things the late announcement of the squad for the first Test against India and the dragging on of Graeme Smith’s appointment as Director of Cricket.  These issues certainly didn’t help the on-field performances. But… Continue reading

Is professional sport dying?

Is professional sport (or domestic sport as it was called during the amateur era) busy dying, especially in the southern hemisphere? When one sees the empty stadiums in all three major sports in South Africa, it certainly looks like it. Even football, that is a truly global game played in over two hundred countries, is under pressure crowd wise in South Africa. Except for the Soweto derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, and to a degree the Mamelodi Sundowns matches, crowd attendances are sparse. Rugby in the southern hemisphere is under pressure with Super Rugby losing support year on year. The stadiums are literally empty, with television viewership down in all three countries; the competition seems to be in free fall. Even international rugby in these three countries is under pressure, with only the All Blacks, England and British & Irish Lions being able to fill stadiums. Domestic cricket… Continue reading

Cricket first!

For me, some of the truest words ever were spoken by the late Robin Williams’s character in the epic 1989 film Dead Poets Society:  “The human race is filled with passion.  Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life.  But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” One can add sport to poetry, beauty, romance and love.  Cricket, for example, is not necessary to sustain life, but it is what millions of people stay alive for.  It fills their lives with passion. We as players, coaches, administrators, officials, journalists and agents are incredibly lucky to be working in cricket, a sport and a passion other people “stay alive for”.  It places a massive responsibility on us.  When we bungle things, we rob millions of their passion to “stay alive for”. There is only one way us who work in the industry… Continue reading

Have the Proteas improved under new management?

With the conclusion of the England tour it is time to assess if the Proteas have improved under the new management of Graeme Smith as Director of Cricket and Mark Boucher as head coach. They took over at a time when the Proteas were in serious decline after losing five Test matches in a row to Sri Lanka at home (2) and against India (3) away. Also, the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England was a disaster. They certainly took over a Proteas team in crisis. England comfortably won the Test series 3-1 after losing the opening match at SuperSport Park that sparked hope for a quick recovery by the Proteas in Test cricket. This was dashed as England became acclimatised to the quicker South African wickets after their tour of New Zealand where they lost the Test series. There was also talk that some England players were sick during… Continue reading

The boys are OK. The coaches, mmm…

Since the heady heights of the 2014 U.19 World Cup triumph, South Africa has fared badly at the bi-annual event. In the aftermath of their disappointing 2020 campaign (where they finished eighth), a lot of criticism has been levelled at the team.  A number of maladies have been put forward for this:  Bad selections, poor management, players simply not being good enough, poor decision-making in crucial situations.  The list goes on. The selection policies are what they are and have been for a long time.  I also don’t believe that the players were that bad.  Players like Luke Beaufort, Tiaan van Vuuren, Jono Bird, Gerald Coetzee and Bryce Parsons are very good.  The respected former international players Ian Bishop and Tom Moody even said that Coetzee was one of the future stars of the game.  These five players may or may not become international stars, but I confidently predict they… Continue reading

South African cricket needs a strong domestic system

Cricket South Africa (CSA) needs a strong domestic system if the Proteas are to be sustainable and compete at international level. CSA and the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) have been at loggerheads since CSA announced that a new provincial system of twelve teams will replace the existing franchise and provincial system. SACA have sued CSA for this decision as they believe they have not been consulted as prescribed between the two parties in the current Memorandum of Understanding. A court date has been set for the end of February 2020. With CSA now under new leadership after the appointment of Jacques Faul as Acting Chief Executive Officer and Graeme Smith as Director of Cricket, we could see the situation defused and litigation avoided. Both are cricketing people and have a better understanding of the needs for South African cricket, rather than satisfying a political agenda. It is crucial for… Continue reading

Do you want to play for the Proteas?

The recruitment of new cricketers is an integral part of the business of One World of Sport.  It is something we have to work on continuously because, as with any business, we need to find ways to grow and expand.  A natural consequence of the recruitment process is that we get to meet new people on a regular basis. In broad terms recruitment is done from two pools of players:  Established cricketers (those who have played at least a few first-class games) and young cricketers (under 20 years old with no experience of first-class cricket).  An established cricketer would be recruited because he has already displayed an ability to play professional cricket.  But a young cricketer is recruited purely on potential. Because it is a leap into the unknown, the recruitment of young players is in many ways a more exciting process.  You meet people from very different backgrounds holding… Continue reading