The shady connection

2012-03-10 00:00

INDIA played a major role in ending South Africa’s isolation and threw their weight behind the Proteas when they fought to return to the international fold.

They gave South Africa their first taste of proper international cricket after isolation and were the first post-isolation tourists.

After Australia, South Africa are India’s complicit younger brother. Their cricket friendship runs deep and it is a well known fact that it is Indian money that drives the game around the world.

Indian cricket tours have so much impact that boards plan their financial windfalls around them before drifting back to poverty when the thinner-pocketed Test teams have their day in the sun.

Whatever the powers-that-be in Cricket South Africa (CSA) reasoned in muscling in on the one-off T20 International on March 30, the supposed day of the MiWay T20 Challenge, pushing the domestic T20 final to April Fool’s Day smacks of bullying of the highest order.

One has to feel sorry for MiWay, who stepped in to provide much-needed sponsorship that was sorely lacking during the franchise one-day Cup.

How CSA will be able to attract more sponsors after their rough treatment of MiWay will surely be high on their agenda come spring, if indeed there are sponsors who will be willing to come on board.

Having bled so many key sponsors like MTN and Standard Bank for whatever reasons, keeping sponsors does not seem to be part of CSA’s DNA. With cricket’s large following and massive advertising potential, sponsors should be banging on the CSA marketing door demanding to have their products ingrained subliminally into the minds of cricket lovers.

India arguably has the largest cricketing market and sponsors hold each other to ransom competing for space on the hoardings and on team jerseys.

Consider the CSA bonus scandal, in which CEO Gerald Majola and former chief operations officer Don McIntosh were caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They have had difficulty in explaining how they allocated themselves hefty bonuses without notifying the board and the remunerations committee.

Inasmuch as Indian cricket co-operation is beneficial for SA cricket, the two are also well known for being caught in the naughty corner together. It must be remembered that it was in India were the late, disgraced Hansie Cronjé was caught on the wrong side of the advantage line nearly 12 years ago.

It looks as if neither of the national cricket boards have learnt their lesson, as it is the nondescript, meaningless games that are ripe for match-fixing pickings.

It was the meaningless Mohinder Armanath benefit game that laid the seeds of Cronjé’s demise, and even if the war against match-fixing is on a much more even keel than it was 16 years ago, Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif found ways to cheat the system.

Even then, it was a newspaper sting operation that busted the spot-fixers, not the toothless International Cricket Council.

These once-off games, like the bunch of meandering one-day series masquerading as competitive cricket will not even be a figment in the memory of cricket fans come Monday morning.

What this shows is India’s ability to manipulate a country’s cricketing sovereignty much like the U.S. enjoys meddling in the affairs of countries that have no interest in it.

CSA, along with Cricket Australia (CA), have all but succumbed to the whims of the BCCI, India’s cricket board of control. What else could have made CA ditch states in favour of city-based franchises in the Big Bash League? The southern superpowers, at least on the cricket field, must be aware of letting the BCCI too close, especially CSA, because there will not be BCCI logos adorning our beloved cricket grounds come October.

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