Ntini named cricket development ambassador

2011-05-25 00:00

ONE of South Africa’s favourite cricketing sons, Makhaya Ntini, has just been named as the first Cricket South Africa (CSA) cricket­ development ambassador. Ntini, who retired from international cricket last year, is delighted to be working with CSA and is passionate about developing cricket, especially in the forgotten parts — the rural areas where he hails from.

This announcement was made at the unveiling of the newly renovated GB Molefe Hostel, which houses the CSA Fort Hare Cricket Academy bursary players. The Fort Hare Cricket Academy, established in 2008, is CSA’s flagship development project. Former Protea fast bowler Mfuneko Ngam is doing good work at this impressive state-of-the-art indoor facility.

I applaud CSA for this initiative and Ntini for his passion and enthusiasm for developing the game, and I wish him well.

Ntini’s reference to forgotten areas is puzzling however. Millions of rands have been channelled from sponsors to CSA over a significant period of time. So why are there still rural (and urban) areas unreached by the arm of CSA’s development programmes?

We know that CSA has a massive development budget which is split between the franchises and unions. What’s unclear is what this money is being spent on.

In KZN, the most populated province, there is much to be done in the area of transformation.

In the Pietermaritzburg area, the Inland Cricket franchise faces real selection challenges. They are required to negotiate their way around quota systems, but do not have access to a large pool of upcoming players. In my opinion their progress is hamstrung by the lack of sustained and meaningful development in this part of the province. Without proper structures in place the sad reality is that many talented cricketers are being lost.

If you are a young cricketer from Mpophomeni or Sweetwaters, for example, with the passion to play representative cricket, there is currently little chance that you will realise your goal. This is a problem that requires urgent attention from CSA. Cricketers are coming through, but they are nearly all from the traditional cricketing schools in and around Pietermaritzburg. What about the forgotten parts right on our doorstep, those areas without access to proper coaching? It’s often said that many KZN schoolboys prefer to play football or basketball to cricket, but I have seen first hand the passion there is for the game of cricket in townships like Imbali and Edendale. To these boys Ntini­ is a real hero and a huge inspiration.

In his new role as cricket development ambassador Ntini will work with CSA in identifying areas that need the most assistance and will also act as a talent scout in the Eastern Cape region.

CSA needs to ensure that its development net is cast far wider than just the Eastern Cape. With not much to report after over a decade, cricket development in many parts of the country has been forgotten for too long.

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