JOHANNESBURG – To misquote - somewhat - Beyonce’s husband: “Cricket South Africa has 99 problems, and the World Cup is just one.”
The problem with the World Cup are the nine other teams participating in it, the Proteas’ over-reliance on a bowling unit - the pace component of which is susceptible to injury - a batting order that ends at no.6 and the history of South Africa in a Cricket World Cup, which hasn’t been good.
But now that the squad has been picked, that is one problem that is out of Cricket SA’s hands - hopefully.
Both the chief executive Thabang Moroe and the president Chris Nenzani have stated quite firmly there will be no interference in selection for the final XI (as was the case four years ago in the semi-final) with Ottis Gibson, Faf du Plessis and Linda Zondi having the last say on who plays in each match.
Which brings us to those other problems for CSA. Money is as usual at the heart of those issues.
Cricket SA’s structural changes for domestic cricket have put it on a collision course with the country’s professional players.
And yesterday - just 24 hours before the Proteas open the World Cup, the SA Cricketers Association (which represents over 300 professional players including the Proteas), filed an application in the Johannesburg High Court calling on CSA to “show cause why its decision to restructure domestic cricket in South Africa should not be reviewed and set aside.”
That application is the culmination of weeks of frustration from the players union who have constantly requested CSA to show how and why it deems a restructuring of the domestic game necessary and indeed what the cost savings will be, and how those cost savings could affect players’ salaries in this country.
“The restructuring decision will have serious implications for the players and for the game in South Africa.
“The lack of proper engagement with SACA before making this decision has left us with no alternative but to approach the court to challenge that decision,” SACA’s president Omphile Ramela said in a statement released yesterday.
The restructuring, which Cricket SA made public in April, would see local cricket return to a 12-team provincial structure - an increase from the current six franchises - and is ostensibly aimed at making a dent in the federation’s massive forecast losses of R654-million over the next three years.
If Cricket SA chooses to oppose SACA’s application it will need to file answering papers.
And while CSA has a fight with its players, it also needs to entice broadcasters to pay up for its product - essentially the men’s Proteas team - as it seeks to fill up its coffers. And for the Proteas to become an attractive product for a broadcaster, Faf and Co. need to go deep into the World Cup - a spot in the final should suffice.
That’s pressure the players could do without and thankfully it looks like Du Plessis and Gibson have done their best to ensure they don’t feel that burden.
Oh, there’s also Gibson’s future, which is as yet undecided as well.
That could lead to a search for the next Proteas coach, which will have to be handled speedily after the tournament, for the side has a trip to India scheduled in October.
Enjoy the World Cup.@shockerhess