Cricket armageddon side-stepped

2014-02-01 00:00

AS I expected there will be no splitting of world cricket between the wealthy big three and the mal-nourished far-from-magnificent seven.

I have no doubt that prior to this week’s ICC meeting of Test members, various permutations of the seven got together in secluded hotel rooms to discuss strategies to deal with the takeover proposals put forward by India, England and Australia.

Some of these meetings may even have included England or Australia but, whatever the tone of the discussions, the same conclusion would have been reached every time which is that the big three could survive very nicely, thank you, without the burden of support and costs of doing business with the poorer nations who would all but starve on their own.

That the minor players now count South Africa amongst their number will irk the delegates from the rainbow nation who have always tried to behave as though theirs was a crucial voice on the world body.

For a brief time it is true that the South Africans held a casting vote between two distinct groups on the ICC.

When South Africa rejoined the international cricket community in 1992, England, Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies formed the one and more influential group of voices due to the quality of their input rather than the existence of the vetoes over ICC affairs that were held by England and Australia.

In fact, like nuclear bombs, the vetoes were never used but remained an ongoing source of discontent among the sub continent countries and particularly in the minds of the Indians.

The Indians had just corralled the Zimbabweans into their corner when South Africa came back into the fold thus disturbing the sub continent’s plans to use a majority of votes to put pressure on England and Australia to surrender their vetoes.

The rainbow nation initially took care to remain neutral and gained some respect for being able to judge an issue on its merit rather than falling in behind some parochial view. This all flew out of the window with the advent of the late and unlamented Percy Sonn who threw his lot in with the friends of India.

In no time, Bangladesh was admitted to Test status, the increasingly powerful Indians persuaded the two founder members to relinquish their vetoes on the threat of establishing a rival world body and Percy Sonn was rewarded with the presidency of the ICC. Everyone lived happily ever after, until now.

Last year the South Africans, courtesy of Norman Arendse’s determination to put Haroon Lorgat into the CEO’s job, lost any ability to reason with the ICC’s most powerful member.

Consequently, our delegates to the recent Dubai meeting will have arrived there with no hope of persuading enough of the other members to mount some kind of resistance, however futile, to the big three’s proposal to take control of cricket for themselves.

The impotent South Africans then fell in behind a tame acceptance of the principles behind the proposed changed status quo of world cricket.

The ICC issued a statement that was designed to calm the

rioters in the streets, that is the international trade union of players, who have vociferously opposed the plans of the big three. The intention was to give the appearance of calm and reasoned unanimity in respect of most of the proposals of the big three who really only have the interest of the plebs at heart.

It is time, once more, to live happily after, again.

Nothing, however, can disguise the fact that a coup d’état is taking place without any shots fired in anger. In due course the proposals of the big three will be enshrined in a new constitution which will be signed off without a murmur from the ranks that had neither the weapons nor, mostly, the will to resist.

The two chief dissenters, Pakistan and South Africa, have just had a season of playing each other so often as to make it clear that a future of endless matches between just the two of them was less than attractive. Behind gritted teeth they will have contributed to the appearance of approval. Deep down they know now that neither country has any further influence on the ICC.

What will all this mean to South Africa? I cannot see that any more ICC competitions will be held in this country which given the shambles of the 2003 hosting may not be a bad thing for all concerned. New Zealand will get an occasional look in by virtue of its relationship as Australia’s poor cousin. India’s sub continent chums will be thrown the odd crumb as very minor co-hosts but the West Indies, like us, will be left in the cold.

To a certain extent South Africa’s fate is in its own hands. If we can contrive to stay at or near the top of world cricket, little will change for our cricketers. All the countries including the big three will want to play us if only on their own terms.

Should, however, South Africa fail to be competitive, dark times lie ahead. I hinted last week that the time has come to take racism out of our cricket. Sadly, it is still alive and well. Only the victims have changed.

We cannot afford to lose the services of any of our best cricketers whatever their backgrounds. As things stand, young white English speaking cricketers are finding that the obstacles against their participation in the local game are growing both in size and quantity. Some of these kids cannot get an even break.

I understand that as many as nine recent members of our U19 teams have approached English counties for work. The anger amongst parents has become volcanic. The boys themselves are frustrated and demotivated. This state of affairs cannot continue if we wish to hold our place in world cricket. The place for our best talent is here at home. Let our second raters fill up the teams of other countries.

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