Inland president responds to criticism

2009-10-23 00:00

WHILE yet another day’s play was ruined by rain at this early stage of the provincial season, KZN Inland Cricket Union president Yunus Bhamjee apologised to Varsity and Northern Districts club players for the mix-up that led to this past Sunday’s Premier League match not taking place, as reported in yesterday’s Witness, and responded to criticism that was levelled at the union in the same article.

“As president, we unequivocally apologise to all the players and teams concerned, and assure them that this will not happen in the future,” Bhamjee said at the Maritzburg Oval yesterday, just after the first day’s play of the KZN Inland/Griquas three-day match had been abandoned.

“We had already communicated this to Reggie Smith [Varsity sports officer for cricket, rugby and hockey] and he confirmed that he had accepted the apology,” Bhamjee said.

“We appreciate and understand Reggie’s frustrations and concerns, which probably resulted in him forgetting to inform [Witness reporter] Jonathan Cook that he had already received an apology.

“We do not hold this against Reggie and understand that it was his passion for sport that had probably got the better of him,” Bhamjee said.

The KZNICU president said the union has gone out of its way to assist Smith on other recent matters and this confirms that the fixtures issue has already been resolved and that the cricket authority and Varsity are working together in the local game’s best interests.

“We do, however, require Reggie’s assistance to find the boodles of cash that he alludes to Inland having,” Bhamjee said.

Among the comments in the Witness report, the Varsity sports officer had said that “it is well-known that cricket’s coffers are full, yet the amateurish outlook is destroying the KZN Inland club game”, and that “compared to KZN rugby, KZN Inland’s cricket set-up is failing us badly”.

In the same article, the Witness reporter had questioned whether the “pathetically weak state of Inland Premier League cricket” could be the reason for the “below-par performances of KZN Inland’s senior team and U19 side” so far this season.

In reply yesterday, Bhamjee said, “The standard of Premier League, and club cricket generally, is a concern. We [the union] are in the process of finalising a programme to fast-track the development of younger cricketers in the area.

“And when we look at development, we are not focusing on race alone, but also placing a lot more emphasis on class,” Bhamjee said. “For example, the poor white kids will not be exempted from our development programmes.”

Meanwhile, umpire Brad White said that due to the Oval pitch having to be protected because of the rain, the strip had “sweated” under the covers and the resulting dampness meant it needed to dry out before play could take place.

Weather permitting, play will begin at 9 am today, half an hour earlier than scheduled.

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