South African domestic cricket changes on the cards

Cricket South Africa (CSA) have announced that they intend changing the franchise structure back to a provincial structure from the 2021/22 season. The franchise system implemented during the 2004/05 season has proved to be the demise of domestic cricket with regard to the support of the domestic game because it disconnected cricket teams from their communities who could not identify with the new brands. The franchise system also proved to be too narrow regarding opportunities for cricketers, especially with the transformation of South African cricket when it was implemented. The only way forward for South African cricket is to implement a provincial system of twelve provinces. This would give every cricket centre a provincial team, create more opportunities for players and restore community interest in cricket again. This would once again make South Africa a true cricketing nation. However, the time is not right to make that strategic change for… Continue reading

Cricket according to cricketers

The Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA), of which the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) is a founding member, recently released a global survey of the employment of men’s professional cricketers.   The survey is compiled mostly from data from the 2018/19 season.  The report is increasing in significance and authoritativeness because it is the fifth such report and comparisons can now be drawn with similar reports from 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2016.  The report is compiled from data from 4,191 professional cricketers from all twelve countries with Test match status plus Scotland. The report found that cricket continues to lag the world’s other major team sports, such as football and rugby, in the recognition of player associations and generally accepting the role of players in the game.  This is mainly because India and Pakistan (which collectively represent 35,6% of all professional cricketers) still do not have a fully-functioning, recognized players’… Continue reading

Cricket makes its return

Cricket has made its return with the Test series being played between England and the West Indies in England in locked down stadiums. It is unusual seeing a Test match in England played in an empty stadium, but it is as they call it the new norm. The series is locked at one all with the final Test also scheduled for Old Trafford, the venue of the second Test. The series has so far produced good, old-fashioned Test cricket. The difference between the teams has been Ben Stokes. He has matured into a fantastic all-rounder and, in the words of England captain Joe Root, he is “a great of the game”. After the second Test most critics would certainly agree with Root. The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the game of cricket are indebted to the West Indies for agreeing to tour despite the threat of the coronavirus.… Continue reading

How India became cricket’s top dog

In February 1993, the International Cricket Council (ICC) were due to have a routine annual meeting at its head office at Lord’s in London. While the world was changing all around it (the late 80’s and early 90’s was a particularly tumultuous time), cricket’s governance had remained virtually unchanged since the formation of the ICC in 1909.  It was the fiefdom of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).  The MCC’s offices were the ICC’s offices and the MCC president was ex officio also the ICC president.  The 9 Full and 19 Associate Member countries had earlier in principle agreed that the 1996 World Cup would be hosted by England.  The February 1993 meeting was supposed to be a rubber stamp.  That is until India started having second thoughts…India sensed the shifting power balance and started canvassing for the tournament to be held on the subcontinent. With the increased membership, the ICC… Continue reading

Lessons from the coronavirus pandemic

The world did not see the coronavirus pandemic coming and was not prepared for the impact it had, causing fear and insecurity probably not seen since the Second World War. The impact on community life, business and sport has been devastating with the real impact still to come, especially economically. Professional sport has learnt two valuable lessons from the coronavirus impact, the one financial planning and the other its continued value and role for television networks. Professional sport has found itself in a commercial and financial battle to survive as events, tournaments and tours have been cancelled or postponed due to the virus. We have seen players’ salaries cut and fulltime staff retrenched to try and make ends meet. For the first time in history we have seen sport played in empty stadiums to create product for the television networks to generate much needed income for the various sports. This… Continue reading

Covid-19 Cricket: The South African story, so far

During World War II, Hollywood kept on releasing new movies and Pablo Picasso kept on painting in Paris.  Surreal, but that is how it was.  The same sense of surrealism permeates South African cricket when one considers the winners and losers during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2018 Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced in parliament that it expects to make a loss of R654 million over a four-year cycle from May 2018 to April 2022.  But two weeks ago, CSA announced to parliament that it is expecting to record a profit of between R50 – 80 million for the 2019/20 financial year.  The sole reason for this?  The weak rand / dollar exchange rate in the Covid-19 economy.  Between 50 – 60% of CSA’s annual income is from international broadcasting rights paid in US dollars.  CSA is expecting a similar profit for the 2020/21 financial year, targeting a new projected loss… Continue reading

Cricket post Covid-19

Two weeks ago, I wrote a column on my reflection over the past 50 years that I have followed cricket, mainly in South Africa but also globally. This week I want to concentrate on the period after Covid-19. Personally, I am not a great believer that a new and totally different world will emerge after Covid-19. It is imaginary, as mankind and the planet will remain the same with the same issues. However, I have labelled it the post Covid-19 era because cricket, like other sport codes and industries, have faced major disruptions not seen since the Second World War. There are three major issues that cricket will have to address post the Covid-19 break if the game is to be sustained and grow in the future. The first major consideration is to control the supply and demand of the cricket product. It is no secret that the professional game… Continue reading

A fresh look at personal sponsorships

The Romans were amazing people.  2,000 years later, so many things around us directly or indirectly come from them:  Our modern government institutions, many engineering concepts (like domes and arches), our legal system and the English language, to name but a few. The Romans also gave us the concept of sponsorship.  Gladiatorial battles were the Romans’ sport.  it is the sole reason why today we can still see the Colosseum in Rome.  Big, brave gladiators were the Christiano Ronaldos and Michael Jordans in those days.  To help a gladiator prepare for battle, he would typically be taken into the care of a nobleman who would provide food and lodging, and all the necessary training facilities.  He became the gladiator’s sponsor. In return the gladiator fought in the name of the nobleman: “Spiculus, fighting for the glory of the family of the most noble Vinius Burpus.”  And yes, ultimately, the gladiator… Continue reading

Covid-19: A time to reflect

With Covid-19 putting the world on hold, including cricket, it is a time to reflect on the past and plan for a time after the virus. I have reflected on fifty years of South African cricket that I have watched and followed, starting with the series against Bill Lawry’s Australians in January 1970 in South Africa. South Africa (then the Springboks) easily won the Test series 4-0 to win only their second Test series against Australia in eighty years. This was a very strong South African team with three geniuses in Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards and Mike Procter. The team also had other greats like Eddie Barlow, Trevor Goddard and Peter Pollock. The one player that little is known about is Lee Irvine. He played in all four Tests, averaging 50.42 and scoring a Test hundred batting at number 5. This was his only series. In normal circumstances he would… Continue reading

To withdraw or not to withdraw…

After a hiatus since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, international cricket will hopefully return on 8 July when the Windies are set to start a three-match Test series in England.  The series is, however, still subject to the final approval of the British government.    But even if the tour is approved, it will not be “business as usual”.  Firstly, all the Windies players had to submit themselves to coronavirus testing in the Caribbean.  The results of these tests should be known by the weekend.  Only those who tested negative will be allowed to board the chartered flight on Monday. Secondly, the Windies selectors have named no fewer than 11 substitutes, who are due to fly with the team, just in case any of the official squad players contract the disease in England.  A total squad of 25 must certainly be one of the biggest in the history of… Continue reading