Cricket South Africa need to give a bit now to benefit later

Cricket South Africa director of cricket Graeme Smith. Picture: Brenton Geach /AFP

Cricket South Africa director of cricket Graeme Smith. Picture: Brenton Geach /AFP

Published Apr 8, 2021


UNDERSTANDABLY, the absence of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, David Miller, Quinton de Kock and Lungi Ngidi from the last ODI – a series decider – against Pakistan yesterday, angered a lot of South Africans.

‘Country first,’ is the argument, backed up by ‘international cricket is the highest form of the game’. It made Proteas captain Temba Bavuma’s job a little bit harder. That quintet took 371 ODI caps’ worth of experience with them on their chartered flight to Mumbai on Monday.

In addition, Miller and De Kock had been crucial performers in the win last Sunday that tied the series – and were in form – while Nortje’s been the best bowler in the series.

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South Africa’s starting XI yesterday contained a total of 154 caps.

From a Pakistan perspective, they might have looked at the absence of those five players and felt slighted that they weren’t getting to face South Africa’s best team, given they’d agreed to the series and done Cricket SA a favour by adding an additional T20 match to the schedule to assist in alleviating a little bit of CSA’s financial pain, felt by Australia’s last minute cancellation.

But international cricket politics at the best of times are brutal – and in a period when the international schedule has been ripped apart by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s become a bloodthirsty exercise trying to secure matches for the national team.

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Cricket SA has of course not helped itself, with the self-induced chaos caused by its administration in the last few years. Leadership and a clear focus for the organisation has been badly lacking and the pandemic has only made that worse.

Cricket SA paid a huge price for that Australian tour cancellation. It can ill afford to take another financial hit.

A tour by India to South Africa is on the cards for the end of the year. Cricket South Africa badly needs the money that such a lucrative series will provide – even if it is played in an environment where restrictions are in place because of the pandemic.

Part of ensuring that that tour takes place is not angering the BCCI, a broad institution with a lot of volatility. Allowing five of South Africa’s best players to play in the Indian Premier League instead of an ODI series decider is an uncomfortable move to make, but if CSA can show the BCCI its willingness to co-operate now, it may prove beneficial to South African cricket in the long run.

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Remember there are a lot of changes coming to domestic cricket in this country and to ensure those changes occur as smoothly as possible, money is needed. Cricket SA also has a number of challenging initiatives it either needs to re-start or put in place and those initiatives need money. Proteas coach Mark Boucher said before the series he’d like there to be more SA A tours and training camps, “but finances are tight, at the moment”.

India is the sport’s richest market. A little ‘give’ from CSA now, may lead to some bigger returns later, for the organisation and South African supporters.

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