New era begins for Proteas

A new era is dawning for South African cricket with the appointment of new leadership for the Proteas. Cricket South Africa (CSA) will be hoping that these leadership appointments will start the much-needed rejuvenation of the Proteas in international cricket. The Proteas now have two captains for the three formats, with Dean Elgar captain of the Test team and Temba Bavuma captain of the ODI and T20 teams. It has been a good decision to remove Quinton de Kock as captain of the Proteas in all formats. He is too valuable to South Africa as a player and he is not a natural leader. Also, history shows that the workload of a wicketkeeper/ batsman as captain does not work; Alec Stewart is a good example of this. Elgar does not have much experience as captain because he has not been a regular franchise captain in his career. His only experience… Continue reading

The Englishman’s game?

In a recent conversation with an Afrikaans-speaking father of a talented young cricketer, he made the following remark (in Afrikaans, of course): “I’m actually a rugby man, but my son plays the Englishman’s game.” It got me wondering whether this was still the prevailing perception among Afrikaners, that cricket is “the Englishman’s game”.  More so because there is a view that, if anybody, the Afrikaners have excelled most in cricket since South Africa’s international readmission in 1992.  To understand this perception, one must go all the way back to the late 19th century.  Between the time of the first ever Test match in 1877 and the formation of the Imperial Cricket Conference in July 1909, the only countries to play international cricket were England, Australia and South Africa.  In those years, the ties between England and Australia were strong, but not so between England and South Africa. Two Anglo-Boer Wars… Continue reading

South African cricket controlled by the government

The Minster of Sport, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, has extended the mandate of Cricket South Africa’s Interim Board by two months to 15 April 2021. In real terms this means that cricket is not run by a board democratically elected by its affiliates and associates, but by the government. Cricket in South Africa remains controlled by the government. This is against the constitution of the International Cricket Council and can lead to CSA’s expulsion. CSA remains an organisation that is paralysed, and the crisis deepens every day as the game slips more and more into the mire. The cancellation of the Australian tour will cost them in the vicinity of R40 million in lost television revenue. CSA have now asked the ICC to intervene, presumably for loss of revenue. However, it is difficult to see the ICC doing this as many international tours have either been postponed or cancelled due to… Continue reading

Less is more

Last Sunday the American football season reached its peak with Super Bowl LV.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the 55th edition of the annual spectacle, their second triumph after 2003.  The Bucs gave the defending champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, a 31 – 9 hiding. The rules of American football are simple.  For an outsider, the difficulties lie in looking past the irritating American razzmatazz and endless commercials, as well as sitting through a game for about three hours with only 15 minutes of action.  And yet, somehow, I get caught up in this irresistible showpiece year after year. Over a period of about five months from mid-September until the first weekend in February, every season builds up to a climactic finale.  Then it is over.  Nothing for the next seven months. The kingpin of American football is the quarterback.  If you think a rugby flyhalf controls a game, then… Continue reading

Second shock wave for South African cricket

The cancellation of the Australian tour of South Africa in March is the second shock wave that Cricket South Africa (CSA) has had to absorb, after England cancelled the One Day International Series in November 2020 because of Covid scares. The cancellation of these two high profile tours will hurt CSA financially, as they will lose millions of rand in television rights and sponsorship income. It certainly is proving to be a challenging year for CSA both on and off the field. The question must be asked, have these two countries the right to cancel these tours because of Covid concerns? The answer must be NO, as CSA successfully hosted Sri Lanka, the Pakistan Women’s Series and the T20 Series against England. Of course, Covid must be taken seriously but not used as an excuse by player power; that is obvious in both those camps. Let us not forget that… Continue reading

Are the provinces ready?

The restructuring of South Africa’s domestic, first-class cricket is in full swing.  If Cricket South Africa (CSA) can have its way, it will be implemented on 1 May.  In a nutshell, the current two-tier system of six franchises supported by a lower tier of thirteen provinces will disappear.  It will be replaced by a one level first-class structure of fifteen provinces.  The provinces will be divided into an A and B section with eight and seven teams respectively. CSA has prescribed a process in terms of which each province can make submissions for it to be included in the A section.  It is an ostensibly democratic process, but in reality it will be a fight for only two places.  The six provinces where the current franchises are based (Northerns, Gauteng, Free State, KZN Coastal, Eastern Province and Western Province) will be in the A section.  The remaining two spots will… Continue reading

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