Why did the Dolphins let their only drawcard Hashim Amla go to the Cobras?

2013-04-26 00:00

THERE was enough disruption to the Dolphins’ domestic season through inclement weather without the latest bombshell — Hashim Amla’s sudden exodus to the Cobras earlier this week.

In an announcement that shocked the local cricket fraternity, Amla decided to throw in his chips with KZN cricket, joining the Cape franchise with immediate effect.

He is a national and worldwide cricket icon, and it was surprising the Dolphins let him go with what seemed the minimal amount of fuss.

As a franchise that battled through another domestic season, surely it would make sense to hang on to the one drawcard, role model and inspiration you have.

If nothing else, it gives the franchise something to show off and be proud of. Having the world’s best cricketer in your ranks, even if he hardly represents the domestic team, is a huge asset and something to crow about.

It keeps the fans interested, gives the youngsters something to aspire to and offers hope to the diehard supporters who look for the positive season after season.

What is surprising is how easy it seemed for Amla to walk out.

No one other than those in the corridors of Kingsmead seem to know what really went down, and they are tight-lipped.

Efforts to establish how all this came about, what the catalyst was, have been met with meek and weak answers.

When the grapevine came alive with the news of Amla wanting to move on, the powers at Kingsmead took the obvious route, feigning ignorance, shock, horror and disbelief at such evident slander. Where did that come from? We have no idea of such a move. Hashim unhappy? Never! We know nothing and will follow up the allegation that he’s leaving.

It’s the easy way out, like a naughty child caught in the act and trying to talk his way out of trouble.

Amla’s departure is big news and surely the officials at Dolphins headquarters knew it was only a matter of time before it got out to the fans.

But there was more. The day after the allegations of Amla’s move surfaced, the KZN Cricket Union issued a press release reassuring all and sundry that all was well at Kingsmead and that Amla had no reason to move on.

It was less the truth than a cover-up, a way of buying time when urgent moves were being made behind the scenes to get Amla to stay on and not cause embarrassment to the union.

For the rumour to break, there had to be some credibility in it, and it was a poor show that the union could not fess up, admit there was a possibility of something major going down and deal with it in an honest way.

When the truth did emerge, it was acknowledged with apparently scant concern. The statements issued about the affair seemed weak and trivial.

There was and still is something bigger going on, the real reason for a thoroughbred Durban cricketer at the top of the international game to suddenly pack his bags and move on, when his union supposedly knew nothing of it.

Word from Kingsmead, when the announcement was made official, put the ball firmly in Amla’s court. There seemed to be no expression of shock or determination to hold on to a priceless asset.

It was a case of him being a player contracted to Cricket South Africa and he could move and groove as he wished.

The attitude was clearly one of “If he wants to go, then let him go”. Were things between the player and the authorities that bad?

It seemed as though the ­KZNCU was saying, “We can afford to let him go. There’s nothing we can do. We have had him for 15 years, we made him what he is so thanks for coming, happy landings.”

On the surface, that’s what seems to have happened. No conviction, no fighting to preserve something unique — just the usual good luck wishes, thanks for your time and service, see you when we jet into Cape Town or you come to Durban.

It’s a poor reflection on cricket in the province and perhaps explains why season after season players simply go through the motions with nothing to show for it.

If a player of Hashim Amla’s pedigree is allowed simply to walk away, what attitude is being adopted towards the current batch of players?

Do they feel they belong? Are they waiting to get their marching orders at any time? Is loyalty just a word in the dictionary? Is it fair to say most of the players just play cricket instead of really wanting to? Should they be blamed for their attitude?

Amla was the only Dolphins player in the national squad for a long time, not exactly a great advertisement for talent in the province.

The cricketing gods obviously knew something was brewing when Kyle Abbott was selected this season.

At least we still have one player in the national squad, albeit still a novice.

It’s also sobering to realise that with the current state of affairs, the three South Africans — Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn and Amla — honoured as Wisden Cricketers of the Year in the 2013 almanac, are all Cobras players. Sad but true.

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