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

South African cricket under siege

The Proteas find themselves in a very difficult period since the end of last season when they beat Pakistan in all three formats. Even then there were signs that there were problems ahead. Since then they exited the 2019 Cricket World Cup without really competing and have lost seven of the last eight Test matches that they have played. This includes losing to Sri Lanka, who was the first sub-continent team to win a series in South Africa. The margins of these defeats are concerning; three have been by an innings and most of the others by big margins. They managed to break the losing streak against England at SuperSport Park in December, but have since lost the last two Tests by large margins. One can’t help but feel that England only lost the first Test because of sickness in the team and acclimatising to the conditions in South Africa… Continue reading

Cricket overload!

In 2020 there are now officially four formats of white-ball cricket: 50 overs, 20 overs, 10 overs and 100 balls. 50-over (or List A) cricket stands on its own; in many ways closer to first-class than T20 cricket.  Because of pressure from television stations for made-for-TV cricket, the proliferation of formats is happening around short-format cricket.  (For the sake of convenience I’ll use “short-format” as a collective noun for 20 overs, 10 overs and 100 balls.) Any new short-format league firstly has to be approved by its home board and then by the International Cricket Council (ICC).  For the period January 2019 to March 2020, the ICC received from its 92 Associate Members no fewer than 25 applications for new short-format tournaments!  There are also the established short-format leagues hosted annually by the 12 Full Members, such as the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Australian Big Bash League (BBL), the… Continue reading

Mzansi Super League has a place in South African cricket

The second edition of the Mzansi Super League (MSL) has just been completed and from a cricketing point of view it was a success. The quality of event and cricket was endorsed by the Australians Ben Dunk and Dan Christian who are well travelled T20 cricketers. Only the Jozi Stars disappointed and never won a match under new coach Donovan Miller. For the rest, all five could still qualify for the playoffs in the last two rounds. The MSL provided very good opportunities and experience for South African cricketers. The problem remains the financial sustainability of the MSL as the projected loss will once again run into millions of rands. The major problem is that the SABC was again awarded the rights to broadcast the tournament. It is common knowledge that the SABC does not have the funds, like the pay channel SuperSport, to secure the rights at the market… Continue reading