Arendse stands firm on selection policy

2008-02-08 00:00

Something like calm descended yesterday on the storm that has raged between Cricket South Africa (CSA) president Norman Arendse and Proteas coach Mickey Arthur this week, but ominous clouds are gathering anew.

That tempest will no doubt break today at a specially called CSA general council meeting. The general council, the final authority in South African cricket, does not often concern itself with matters pertaining to professional cricket.

That is usually the preserve of CSA’s professional arm, which is headed by chief executive Gerald Majola.

But the mere fact that the general council has been mobilised is a strong indication that drama is imminent, and it would not surprise if Arthur’s future as coach or as a selector is in jeopardy.

This sorry state of affairs has been reached after several heady days during which Arendse and Arthur have fired increasingly inflammatory verbal volleys at each other over the composition of the South African squad to tour Bangladesh.

Arendse would seem to have taken issue with the fact that only four players of colour, instead of the target of seven that the selectors strive for, were in the squad that was first handed to him on Tuesday.

Arendse is also concerned that South Africa, in a cluttered season that will encompass tours to India and England, seem determined to play their strongest combination against the Bangladeshi minnows instead of blooding new talent and resting regulars.

Arthur and most of the other selectors are anxious to acclimatise the players to the similar conditions they will face in India, and they are mindful of not handing out undeserved Test caps.

"It’s disappointing that this thing has come out into the open in the way it has," Arendse told Weekend Witness yesterday. "The only thing you can do is to go back into the meeting room and say, ‘Guys, we can’t operate like this’."

Arendse also gave short shrift to Arthur’s thoughts of having him hauled on to the carpet.

"I’m not saying I’m above the law, but the CSA president can’t be charged in terms of CSA’s disciplinary procedures," he said. "They apply to CSA employees. I am an elected official, not an employee."

The people who should matter most in cricket, the players, have observed this week’s events anxiously, rather like leprechauns watching a pair of warring giants indulge in a game of nuclear tennis.

Is there any truth in the whispers of a strike that have done the rounds?

"A player strike has not been discussed, it’s premature to do so and it’s not a threat we would use lightly," said Tony Irish, the chief executive of the SA Cricketers’ Association.

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