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

Tough assignment awaiting Proteas

Proteas coach, Russell Domingo, recently said that a tour to England is always something “you want to be a part of”.  But the Test series will be a very tough assignment considering the circumstances leading up to the first match at Lord’s. The last Test series in England was in 2012.  South Africa had a settled side – eight players were also part of the historic 2008 Test series victory and the likes of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis were in their prime.  They also did some serious planning, including a camp in Switzerland under the guidance of South African-born adventurer Mike Horn.  But most importantly, the Proteas had a massive incentive:  to claim the Test mace. This time, just about everything is different from 2012.  The stakes are not so high again.  Even if South Africa wins the series 4-0, they will not be able to move from their … Continue reading

South African rugby has no context

The first big rugby match I attended was as a thirteen year old in 1968 when Tom Kiernan’s British Lions played Griquas in Kimberley. From that moment, I was hooked on the game of rugby and became addicted to it when Griquas won the Currie Cup in 1970. I have followed South African rugby for nearly fifty years and watched over fifty Test matches live during this period. Today, I have lost my appetite and passion for rugby as a whole, also my patriotism for the Springboks as there is just too much rugby with no context. Let’s start with Currie Cup, the oldest domestic competition in world rugby. It has served South African rugby since 1891. The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has destroyed this high profile competition with the enlarged Super Rugby. The Currie Cup is crammed in at the back of the season and played without the … Continue reading

Teams announced for the T20 Global League

After weeks of speculation, Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Monday this week finally announced the owners of the eight franchise teams for the inaugural T20 Global League (already assuming the abbreviated moniker T20GL in media reports).  It signified a momentous step forward in establishing CSA’s own global T20 event. At a glitzy event at London’s posh Bulgari Hotel (it is a little baffling that an announcement of this magnitude should be made in England and not South Africa), the bases for the franchises and their respective South African marquee players were also announced. The significant features of the team ownerships are an expansion of current Indian Premier League (IPL) and Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchises and the minority of South African owners. Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, who was announced as the owner of the Cape Town franchise, already owns the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL and the Trinbago … Continue reading

ICC Champions Trophy wrap

The ICC Champions Trophy Final on Sunday at the Oval will be played between the biggest rivals in world cricket: Pakistan and India.  Once again Pakistan, known for their giant-killing acts at ICC tournaments, stood up from the dead to easily beat England in the Cardiff semi-final. The final will be a great occasion between two bitter rivals of world cricket. India will start as favourites because it seems as if this Pakistan team feels inferior to their Indian counterparts who are rock stars in world cricket and in their own cricket mad country.  India has the stronger batting line-up with more experienced match-winners and is the defending champions. However, on the day any of the two can win and Pakistan is known to win tournaments from the dead. Remember the 1992 World Cup in Australia… For the ICC this is a dream final, especially for their sponsors who are … Continue reading

Cricket agency in South Africa in 2017

2013 represented a nadir for agents in the American professional football league, commonly known as the NFL (National Football League).  The general consensus was that there were too many agents in the game (861 to be exact!), that the agents were undermining the authority of the NFL and the 32 teams – often to the detriment of their own clients – by taking many of the stalled contract negotiations to the media, and that they were no longer seen as part of the NFL establishment.  As a respected agent of 41-years standing, Leigh Steinberg, described it, we were seen as “lampoonish, cartoonish, greedy, and destructive to clients and our sport itself”. The NFL’s veteran agents put their heads together and gradually dragged the agency business out of its self-induced morass.  They recognised that the true battle in their sport ought not to be labour versus management.  The real opposition for … Continue reading

South African T20 becoming a reality

Cricket South Africa (CSA) yesterday announced that “T20 Global League” will be the name of the new South African T20 tournament and the logo was also unveiled to the media. CSA has now taken another big step towards making the long-awaited tournament a reality. The new franchise owners of the eight teams will be announced at Lord’s on 19 June after the ICC Champions Trophy. There is speculation that no South African company is interested in buying a franchise or can afford one. If this is true, it will be disappointing that a high profile South African tournament will be owned by foreigners only. The overseas and local marquee players will also be announced with the franchise owners at Lord’s. During August a player draft will be held for the franchises to secure the rest of their playing squads. There is a lot of excitement and interest from not only … Continue reading

A Decade of the IPL

Last weekend the Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant brought the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to a thrilling close in Hyderabad.  The Mumbai Indians clinched their third IPL title in a nail-biting, one run victory. After 10 years, it is time to give the IPL a critical look.  It is a great product, and one of the biggest and most popular professional sports leagues in the world.  No matter how solid this foundation is, it is inevitable that the modern, commercial trends will force the powers-that-be at the IPL to a crossroads from where future IPL’s can be steered in one of two directions:  A makeover or stick to a winning formula. The IPL is a consumer product.  In the fickle world of consumer preferences, the key is to stay one ahead of the consumer.  That’s why mobile phone and technology companies keep offering new models … Continue reading

It is such time again for the Proteas

The Proteas face another examination of their mental strength in International Cricket Council (ICC) global tournaments when they participate in the ICC Champions Trophy in England in June. There is a belief that historically the Proteas have not been mentally strong enough to win these tournaments, despite their continued success in bilateral series. There is also a perception that South Africa has never won an ICC global event but that is incorrect. The Proteas won what was called the ICC Knock-Out Trophy, the forerunner to the Champions Trophy, in Bangladesh in 1998. However, in reality, over the years the Proteas have promised much but failed to deliver at ICC events like the World Cup, Champions Trophy and World T20. The Proteas have as good a chance as any of the other eight teams participating to win the Champions Trophy because no country has a dominant international team. It will come … Continue reading

Welcome to the real world

(Conversation overheard in a coffee shop, with some narrative licence.) “After Coke Week [i.e. the Coca-Cola Khaya Majola U.19 Cricket Week] he’ll spend Christmas with us and then play for the club.  He’ll easily walk into the first team.  He then wants to go to England to play some club cricket.”  This is the father speaking. “So he’s not going to study?” asks his friend. “No.  He could go to university if he wants to; as you know his marks are quite good.  But he can start making money a lot quicker by playing cricket and can make a lot more money than in any other job,” answers the father. “Oh, I didn’t realise that.”  The friend sounds surprised.  “Maybe I should tell my boy to quit his studies.”  The two have a hearty chuckle.  “But do you think he’ll get into the club’s first team?” “Ja, easily,” the father … Continue reading