Revisiting the dark old days?

2010-01-28 00:00

THE shockwaves that have run through South African cricket’s top table have taken more victims, with the entire selection panel joining Mickey Arthur on the departures list.

In the most spectacular fashion, Cricket South Africa’s chief, Gerald Majola, has taken over the handling of the Proteas.

Majola will head an interim selection panel as the team heads to India on Saturday, with Corrie van Zyl in temporary charge, and Kepler Wessels in pole position to take over permanently.

It is in keeping with South Africa’s ability to shoot itself squarely in the foot that led to Arthur’s very sudden “resignation”.

Call it what you want, but few coaches in modern sport would leave a talented team, filled with promise, for no good reason.

Arthur and Majola both cited “a difference in opinion” as the main reason for his departure, but you may as well call it what it is.

What seems almost certain is that Arthur could not agree with the “guidelines” he was given with regards to selection within the Proteas’ line-up.

Makhaya Ntini’s decline could not have come at a worse time for all concerned, because when he was at his best he killed two birds with one stone.

It shouldn’t be this way.

It is a source of great embarrassment — and a severe handicap — that Graeme Smith’s side still needs political tampering before it is deemed fit to take the field.

Arthur has taken the can for the lack of progress made by CSA’s much-vaunted development programmes.

Aside from Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who is as promising as he is injury prone, there are simply no black players who have come through the system to give Arthur a viable alternative.

It is surely down to lower levels of domestic cricket to operate under such “instructions”, but the powers that be still feel that a national team can be compromised by trying to put out a fully representational side.

There seems to have been a lot that occurred behind closed doors since the dust settled from the England tour.

The so-called “indaba” that included coach, captain, selectors and the board was supposed to map out the future for SA cricket.

Instead, it has blown a big hole in a solid structure, and whoever they employ to pick up the pieces will have an unenviable task.

Wessels would seem to have the mental toughness and the worldly wisdom to deal with the pressure, but how on earth do you try and win whilst trying to appease ill-advised politicians all at once?

South African cricket, for all its efforts to move away from a tumultuous past, is in danger of revisiting the dark old days of interference and ridicule.

Do you remember the Jacques Rudolph and Justin Ontong fiasco?

Cricket, or any other sport, should not be a platform for political pressure.

The time will come when a multi-cultural team picks itself.

But until CSA put as much effort into development structures as they do into unsettling the national side, there will always be a yo-yo in the performances and the general well-being of this country’s best players.

The side that turns out against India will do well to even live with Gary Kirsten’s unit, because they have a lot more to worry about than just doosras and bouncers.

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