Cape Town - “I don’t want to sound political”, said Ryan Campbell on at least a few occasions during the Netherlands’ arrival press conference yesterday.
Welcome to South Africa, Mr Campbell where everything is political, particularly cricket.
Campbell may be the Netherlands coach on their first ever tour of SA and fairly assimilated into the Dutch culture, but he has certainly lost none of his straight-shooting ability ingrained during his formative years back in Perth.
He wasn’t, though, being “political” in the SA sense, where it naturally migrates to race relations.
He was referring more to cricket’s hierarchy and its treatment of associate nations, particularly in respect of the ICC’s curtailing of the World Super League after 2023 last week, when in fact it’s due to the WSL that the Netherlands are about to play three one-day internationals against the Proteas, starting this week.
“The facts are that we’re supposed to be leaving this game in a better state for the future generation. We can say we want to be the most participated sport in the world, but if we’re not giving opportunities to the best associate teams and lower down, it’s very frustrating.
“I just get the feeling that individual countries forget that it is supposed to be a world game,” Campbell said.
“It really is important for us because for us, it’s to basically inspire the next generation of Dutch cricketers to play and to show the world that we can compete with the best teams in the world.
“It was Donald Bradman who said we should be leaving the game in a better place where we found it, and I would ask that question of all the big teams are they doing that, or are they just interested in their own backyards?”
Listening to Campbell’s passionate plea for associate nations to be given greater opportunities, it became even clearer to me what a definitive decision it was to grant the 2027 ODI World Cup hosting rights to Namibia, along with Zimbabwe and SA last week.
Namibia are a fledgling nation with a hunger to show their worth on the global stage and pit their skills against the world’s best – as they did with aplomb at the recent T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
The co-hosting of the World Cup, particularly in conjunction with SA, therefore immediately gives them a goal to work towards as they would not like to be spectators at their own African party.
That is why it was refreshing to listen to Cricket SA acting chief executive Pholetsi Moseki commit to helping Namibia and the other surrounding African nations grow the game in their respective countries after the World Cup announcement.
Moseki stated that SA were aware of their responsibilities as the “big brother” of the African cricket countries.
Cricket does not have the global appeal to attract the masses like soccer, and it therefore needs to work even harder to promote the growth of the game.
And for that reason, Campbell and his Dutch charges are more than welcome in SA than when they first arrived on these shores back in 1652. And yes, that was political …