Preview: South Africa v West Indies Test Series

  Whilst one-day cricket will be on the minds of cricket fans all over the world with the World Cup coming up in February 2015, attention will for a short moment shift to test cricket. The Proteas take on the West Indies in a three-match test series starting on 17 December in Centurion and ending with the traditional New Year’s test match at Newlands from 2 – 6 January 2015.  The second test match starts on Boxing Day in Port Elizabeth. In 2007 Port Elizabeth was the scene of the West Indies’ one and only triumph over the Proteas on South African soil.  The hosts, however, made amends in the rest of the series and comfortably won the next two test matches – by 7 wickets and an innings and 100 runs respectively. On the West Indies’ first tour to South Africa in 1998/9 the Proteas whitewashed them in a… Continue reading

Tragic death of Phillip Hughes

The tragic death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes shocked the cricketing world. It rekindled memories of the death of Chris Burger, the Western Province fullback who broke his neck in a Currie Cup match in the Free State Stadium during the 1980’s. It left fans with the same sense of loss and sadness. It was fantastic to see how the cricketing fraternity around the world rallied in mourning the death Hughes and celebrating his life.  It proved that cricketers have a special bond that is above race, religion or creed. It was wonderful to witness and experience. The untimely death of Chris Burger lead to the establishment of the Chris Burger fund that today raises millions of rand to assist rugby players that are severely injured during matches. This is a great legacy for a man who lost his life playing the game he loved. It remains to see what… Continue reading

The Indian Juggernaut

In their book Soccernomics, authors Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski identified three factors why Brazil dominated world football during the twentieth century.  These three factors were experience, population size and national wealth.  In a sentence:  A huge talent pool, exposed to good facilities, that has a long history of competing as a nation is hard to beat. Historically Brazil is the greatest footballing power.  They have won an unrivalled five World Cups and their international winning percentage of 63% is far superior to any other country.  Since 1900 Brazil has on average had the fifth largest population in the world.  The latest data puts the number at about 203,500,000 – 2,8% of the world population.  Although Brazil might now be ranked seventh in the world by GDP, the country wasn’t always so high up the ladder.  But you didn’t need to be rich to play football.  It was (and still… Continue reading

Cricket World Cup returns to Australasia

The ICC Cricket World Cup returns to Australia and New Zealand after twenty three years for the eleventh edition in 2015. Especially, Australia with its weather, cricket culture, infra-structure and great cricket venues is probably the best country in the world to stage a World Cup. The 1992 Cricket World Cup was the first time that the tournament was played in coloured clothing, with a white ball and under floodlights. The event was a massive success with regards crowd support and extensive media coverage. It changed world cricket and elevated the game to a new level. Twenty three years later many things have changed in the world and there is a concern if the 2015 World Cup will be a success. In some quarters it is believed that this World Cup will be a watershed for the future of the fifty over game. There are three major changes since 1992.… Continue reading

Cricket needs all the help it can get

According to the United Nations there are 196 independent countries in the world.  Eleven of these (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago) make up the official West Indian cricket team.  Nine others officially play test cricket:  South Africa, Australia, Pakistan, England (for all practical purposes representing the United Kingdom), Sri Lanka, India, New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.  In total 20 countries are involved in test cricket.  That is 10,2% of the world’s independent countries.  Put differently, a tad more than 20% of the world’s population is by virtue of nationality connected to test cricket. FIFA, on the other hand, lists all 196 independent countries on their official rankings, plus some independent territories for a total compliment of 209.  100% of the world’s population is therefore connected to international football. In such… Continue reading

Cricket anarchy reaches new levels

The West Indies’ walkout of the recent tour of India has propelled the vulnerability and anarchy of cricket to a new level. This is the first time in the history of the game that a tour has been curtailed by the players. In the past tours have been cancelled or curtailed for political and security reasons by the governing bodies but never before by the players. Is this the first signs that player power is starting to dominate the game with serious consequences for its profile, future and commercial stability? If the players can walk out of a tour of India then it can happen to any country in world cricket. India is the commercial juggernaut that holds world cricket together financially. If player power continues it will have serious ramifications for the controlling bodies of the cricketing nations. We have seen that the Board of Control for Cricket in… Continue reading

When a sponsorship becomes golden handcuffs

Cricket is an expensive sport. A cricket equipment manufacturer typically budgets between R15,000 to R20,000 per year for an equipment sponsorship for an individual player.  (You can roughly double that number to get to the retail value of the equipment.)  An equipment sponsorship contract is a sought-after commodity.  When a young cricketer at the cusp of his career is offered an equipment sponsorship, he accepts it without asking too many questions. However, before the contract has run its course, the contract terms and reality often become irreconcilable. The following is a familiar sponsorship:  The young professional cricketer is a much better player now than when his equipment sponsorship contract was signed 18 months ago and as a result he is completely under-rewarded.  The sponsorship contract has become golden handcuffs.  What can the player do? He could ask the sponsor for a new deal, but tactically and practically it is not… Continue reading

The RAM SLAM T20 needs a better profile

The South African Ram Slam T20 starts next week when all six franchise teams will participate in the launch at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. This is along the lines of the Discovery Knockout Challenge of years gone by that was the start of T20 cricket and the Finals Day in England. South Africa is the best Test team in world cricket and has made a big contribution to the global game including pioneering the T20 format. Unfortunately, the current Ram Slam T20’s profile in world cricket does not do justice to the history and success of the South African game. The IPL will always have the highest profile and be the richest T20 competition in the world. However, South Africa with Australia need to be the next best T20 competitions in world cricket. At the moment the Caribbean Premier League is also ahead of South Africa and that is… Continue reading

Will the Proteas finally triumph?

More than 20 years since South Africa’s re-admission into international cricket it still remains a mystery why the country has failed so miserably at cricket’s biggest showpiece, the World Cup. In little more than three months, the Proteas will for the seventh time embark on a World Cup campaign, hoping to achieve what no other South African team has come close to achieving. The eleventh edition of the Cricket World Cup takes place in Australia and New Zealand from 14 February to 29 March 2015. In the build-up the South Africans appear to have done at least two things right. Firstly, since the ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE in October/November last year, the Proteas’ ODI team selections have been consistent.  Apart from the odd combinations tweaking here and there and a few minor injuries, the core of the team has stayed the same.  It looks like the players… Continue reading

Is there a place for Champions’ League T20?

The Champions’ League T20 has been completed in India and once again the question arises does it warrant a place on the international schedule or is it congesting an already over loaded schedule? The CLT20 does create an opportunity for the domestic teams and players around the world to play in an international tournament. It also brings rich financial rewards to franchises and players who make it to India. However, it remains an Indian dominated competition with three Indian teams being guaranteed a place and a fourth team playing in the qualifiers. The aim is to have four Indian teams participating as the Indian market is the driver. It has been developed solely for Indian purposes and nothing else. The composition of the teams is heavily weighted in the favour of the Indians teams. They have access to all their foreign players of which four can be on the field,… Continue reading