Cricket’s colour clashes

2015-04-05 15:00

Cricket SA (CSA) this week became embroiled in the heated discussions on transformation currently taking place in sport.

Allegations that CEO Haroon Lorgat instructed coach Russell Domingo to drop Kyle Abbott in favour of “player of colour” Vernon Philander, have thrown the organisation into a spin.

Lorgat has denied allegations of an SMS being sent to Domingo in the early hours of the morning ahead of the World Cup semifinal against New Zealand, “instructing” him to drop Abbott and replace him with Philander.

“This is utter nonsense reporting, with false allegations being made,” noted Lorgat in a statement issued by CSA.

“There was no SMS, WhatsApp or BBM sent by me to the coach.

“Why would I want to do that when I know the team was confirmed and already announced to the players and team management at their usual 6pm team meeting that evening [before the semifinal].

“Our media policy is not to respond to speculative or false media reports where unnamed sources are quoted.

“But in this case, due to the damage being caused to the reputation of the Proteas, CSA and individual players soon after a painful exit from the World Cup, I feel it necessary to speak out and make it clear that this report is false,” he added.

The statement ended with the usual concluding comment of the “CSA will not comment further”.

Up to the time of going to print, attempts to prove the allegations had pulled a blank as none of the other involved parties were prepared to comment.

However, the allegations led to a heated debate around team selection and transformation in the sport.

The slow pace of transformation in cricket has been a concern for many years.

A report last year by an eminent persons group led by Somadoda Fikeni did not paint a happy picture of transformation in the top three sports in this country, namely football, rugby and cricket.

In many black communities, cricket is still viewed as a lily-white sport.

But the cricket transformation charter shows that the ideas around the process are, on the whole, good.

Some points from the charter are:

.?A process of unlocking the human assets of the organisation by allowing all legitimate stakeholders to be heard, to encourage local ownership and ensure accountability to all its structures;

.?To drive cricket to the majority of the people of this country at all levels of the game;

.?To ensure cricket grows and flourishes among the truly disadvantaged of society, with the recognition that the majority of the disadvantaged come from black African communities;

.?Reaffirm the mission to bring cricket to all the people of South Africa and facilitate a culture of nonracialism;

.?A programme aimed at broadening the culture of the game and democratising opportunities in all our communities. This programme must ultimately assist in establishing cricket as the people’s game, which integrates all communities in cricket activities, thereby contributing to the shaping of a future cricket culture;

.?To bridge the existing gaps between school, club, provincial and international cricket to minimise loss of human potential and optimise the return on cricket’s human and financial investment; and

.?Recording the full history of South African cricket. To acknowledge, record and respect black cricket during the past century in order to establish a rich and comprehensive history of South African cricket, recognising our diversity as a source of strength.

Given such suggestions, maybe Philandergate will provide a good opportunity for cricket’s governing body to revisit the charter and see how far they have come since it was adopted.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula was also accused of interfering with the Proteas team selection, an accusation he has categorically denied.

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