Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat and Proteas Test captain Faf du Plessis. Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed
JOHANNESBURG - For the time being, at least, it appears that South African cricket will avoid the kind of drama currently unfurling in Australian cricket circles, where the top players are threatening a boycott.

Ahead of the South African team’s departure for England on Tuesday, Test captain Faf du Plessis remarked that, for the senior core of players, representing the Proteas remained important. In the case of someone like AB de Villiers there appears to be sympathy with why he’s decided to manage his schedule, although as Du Plessis said about his mate in GQ magazine, there wasn’t total agreement.

“We have a group of guys still very keen on playing for South Africa for a little while still, certainly to the World Cup,” Du Plessis said before boarding for London.

Of course a lot can change in two years but it was reassuring to hear the Test captain express that sentiment. In the meanwhile, Cricket South Africa must take heed of the drama unfolding in Australia and attempt to ensure the same doesn’t happen here.

A catastrophic breakdown in communication has occurred between Cricket Australia (CA) and the players unions, the Australian Cricketers Association, over the latest Memorandum of Understanding between the two bodies.

CA wants to pay its elite men’s and women’s players fixed salaries, moving away from the current model which sees the players receive a share of the association's income. Paying them fixed contracts means CA can instruct them when or whether to play in events like the IPL - something the players are strongly rejecting. The players want to continue the revenue share model.

“If it gets to the extreme, they might not have a team for the Ashes,” Dave Warner said this week.

CA has threatened not to pay players after June 30, placing the Ashes series - always a lucrative event - at the end of the year in jeopardy.

It’s a particularly messy situation. The explosion of domestic T20 leagues - which later this year will include a South African competition - means players are no longer beholden to national team contracts. As those options become more lucrative and international cricket - with the exceptions of World Cups and big Test series’s - less relevant, players will cast their attention elsewhere.

One senses that the resolution to the situation in Australia - if it’s resolved - will have far-reaching consequences for the game. Already, the West Indies have had their international team decimated - in fact this week Daren Sammy, upon reading Warner’s take about playing in different T20 leagues to supplement income, tweeted: “Hmm, welcome to our world.”

There’s lots of warning signs out there for South African cricket - which has already been rocked this year by Kolpak exits - hopefully they will be heeded.


The Star

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