'Hard conversations' will help Proteas
JOHANNESBURG - While chaos continues to swirl all around South African cricket, the country’s top men’s players eschewed petty squabbling on social media and looked each other in the face over five days, holding “hard conversations” which they hope will forge a strong team ethos when cricket in the country resumes.
Understandably, given the current climate in SA cricket, transformation was a hot topic of debate among the players.
“Massive,” was how Volvo Masubelele, the national men’s team’s manager, described it.
“With everything that has been happening, the culture camp provided an opportunity for guys to reflect ... the hard conversations, the honesty that came out of it, really allowed the guys to say the things that concerned them,” he added.
“The players definitely challenged one another - you don’t, as a player, want to walk away without having your say when the opportunity was there. Guys could authentically challenge each other, say what they wanted to say, and it wasn’t necessary to reach consensus, just to listen, genuinely and to understand.”
The storm around transformation is not abating as was reflected in heated exchanges on twitter between the president of the SA Cricketers’ Association, Omphile Ramela, one of CSA’s current independent directors Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw, and Ramela’s former Lions teammate, Alviro Petersen yesterday.
For the 31-man high performance squad that gathered for the five-day ‘culture camp,’ in Skukuza, the success of their face to face talks will be measured over the weeks, months and years that they will spend in each other’s company, off the field and on it. Masubelele, feels the camp and the discussions held there will be critical to performance.
“It was about team identity, team performance, what we expect of each other and it was driven by the players ... these are things not directed at the skills side of the game. We were addressing the ‘soft issues’, that contribute on and off the field to performance.”
The players heard from performance analyst Ruan Botha about team performance, culture and identity, while Mahlatse Mashua, a speaker employed by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries - who deliver lectures combining Christian values with social justice and race relations - spoke about the “human element,” involved in social discussions.
Masubelele said it was important that the discussions also filter down to the various provinces, but that CSA was still looking at how to best facilitate that.
As for when the South African men’s team would play again, Masubelele couldn’t say, though it is understood Cricket SA are hopeful to have some kind of schedule in place for later this year, depending on the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For now, besides the players who have headed to Dubai for the Indian Premier League, the high performance squad will continue training with their respective franchises.