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

Cricket South Africa looking to offload the Kolpak cricketer

Since 2003 Cricket South Africa (CSA) has lived with Kolpak cricketers even if they were not available for the Proteas, but that is all about to change. The recent migration of South African cricketers to certain English counties as Kolpak cricketers has resulted in CSA taking a harder stance on the matter. The loss of current Proteas cricketers Rilee Rossouw and Kyle Abbott was the last straw for CSA, especially the manner in which it was done. There are nine Kolpak cricketers that are currently contracted to the six franchises and play in the domestic competitions. It looks like CSA will in future limit the Kolpak cricketers to only one per franchise, but the important aspect is that they will need to remunerate the Kolpak cricketers out of their own funds. The franchise product is not commercially viable and is financed by CSA. This includes the franchise cricketers who are … Continue reading

Spotlight on the “spirit of the game” (again!)

  The West Indies U.19 team has caused quite a stir in the cricket world with their successful, albeit controversial, appeal for ‘obstructing the field’ against South African batsman Jiveshan Pillay in their U.19 World Cup clash in Tauranga, New Zealand earlier this week. Pillay was dismissed after picking up and throwing the motionless ball, which he had inside-edged onto his pad, to West Indies wicketkeeper and captain Emmanuel Stewart, who then appealed.  The umpires convened to discuss the appeal and sent the decision to the third umpire, who then made the final decision. The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), custodian of cricket’s laws, state in the first paragraph in the Preamble to the Laws of Cricket that the game “should be played not only according to the Laws, but also within the Spirit of Cricket.  The major responsibility for ensuring fair play rests with the captains, but extends to all … Continue reading

Is traditional Test Cricket under threat?

The Proteas have now completed the first two Test matches of the peak international season. The four-day, pink ball (day/night) Test against Zimbabwe finished within two days and the Indian Test at Newlands in reality finished within three days. Four days of Test cricket have been lost commercially for sponsors, advertisers and television. Zimbabwe is an ordinary Test team at best, but batting against the pink ball under lights at St. George’s Park was impossible. The night- time environment, together with lights, grass on the pitch and moisture, are a lethal cocktail and make batting impossible. The only thing learnt out of the Boxing Day Test at St. George’s Park is that day/night cricket is not an innovation; it will destroy Test cricket and its culture. The Newlands wicket had far too much movement and bounce to be conducive for competitive Test cricket. On the first day 13 wickets fell … Continue reading

The future of the overseas player in English club cricket

The overseas player has been as much part of club cricket in England (as well as other parts of the United Kingdom) as afternoon tea and sheep grazing on the outfield. Estimates vary of exactly how many overseas players, mainly from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India and Pakistan, converge on English shores from the start of April every year.  In the period more or less before 1975, it was only the really wealthy clubs, mostly in Lancashire and around London, which could afford the luxury of an overseas player.  The main growth spurt of the overseas player happened over the past 40 years.  In 2006 this number was said to be between 12,000 to 14,000 players; a decade later it had almost doubled to between 20,000 to 24,000 players. In the mid-1990’s the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) overhauled the English club cricket system and the Premier Leagues … Continue reading

South African T20 needs own identity

If Cricket South Africa (CSA) is to be successful in reviving the aborted T20 Global League (T20GL), they will need to put on their thinking caps and create a tournament with its own identity and feeling. They tried to copy the Indian Premier League (IPL) model and failed badly. CSA need to make it a continent tournament to ensure that SuperSport buys into it as the broadcast partner. Without a broadcaster paying the bills, any tournament will be stillborn like we have seen with the now defunct T20GL. SuperSport is the only broadcaster with the financial muscle to ensure that such a tournament is successful. Looking towards India is not an option as Indian players are only allowed to participate in the IPL and no other domestic T20 league. The name of the tournament should be the Africa Cup T20 to create its own identity and align it with the … Continue reading

Red cards and thinner bats

With very little fuss, the International Cricket Council (ICC) introduced new changes to the laws of cricket that came into full effect around the world on 1 October this year.  The changes cover all levels of the game. The new Code of Laws, issued by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) (amazing to think that after removing all vestiges of colonialism in cricket, the ICC still entrusts the laws of the game to the MCC), are the first major changes to the game’s laws  for almost two decades.  The 2017 Code is the sixth of its kind written by MCC since the first Code was drawn up in 1788.  The other four Codes were published in 1835, 1947, 1980 and 2000. The new Code followed a three-year project overseen by the MCC’s laws sub-committee, which involved numerous trials and widespread global consultation throughout the professional and amateur game. In total the … Continue reading

Did South Africa deserve to be awarded the 2023 Rugby World Cup?

After the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) technical committee announced that South Africa was the preferred candidate to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, there was a high expectation that the IRB World Council would just rubber-stamp South Africa’s nomination. However, when the 39 Members voted they decided that France be awarded the 2023 Rugby World Cup by 24 votes to 15. The other candidate, Ireland, was eliminated in the first round of voting. There was a massive outcry in South Africa because of the process. It was called undemocratic and the IRB was even accused of being an “Old Boys’ Club”. To call the process undemocratic is laughable, because it could not have been more democratic and transparent. A secret vote does not make a process undemocratic; if this were the case then all elections in democratic countries across the world need to be declared illegal. It was naïve of … Continue reading

Will Kohli eat his words..?

In the cricket world Virat Kohli (India), Joe Root (England), Steve Smith (Australia) and Kane Williamson (New Zealand) are known as the “Fab Four” – the quartet of the world’s best batsmen.  All four also captain their national sides. Kohli is arguably the leader of the Fab Four.  He is the only one who averages more than 50 in all three formats.  He has also lead India to the point where they are now ranked No.1 in the world in Test and ODI cricket.  When Kohli therefore expresses an opinion on the game, one should – on the face of it anyway – take it seriously. At a press conference on the eve of the second Test match between India and Sri Lanka starting in Nagpur on Friday, Kohli revealed that India had demanded fast, green-topped wickets for the Test series in order to prepare them for their tour of … Continue reading

A new cricketing format debuts

The world will see ten over cricket for the first time in a global tournament in the middle of December when the Dubai T10 takes place. This will be the fourth format of the game and the third shortened version since the introduction of fifty over cricket in the 1970’s. The concern for the game is that it is being allowed to fragment even further with this new format. Cricket already has an identity problem with the three formats and now this latest development compounds this problem even further. The main concern is that if a television network likes T10 cricket because it fits into their culture and scheduling then it can start becoming a threat to T20 cricket like we saw with the fifty over game. The International Cricket Council (ICC) and Member countries had to work hard to protect the fifty over game from the threats of T20 … Continue reading