Jonty: ICC is like Survivor

Jonty Rhodes (Gallo Images)
Jonty Rhodes (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - South Africans should not be too fearful yet that world cricket power will suddenly become lopsidedly placed into the hands of a “big three” of India, England and Australia, says Jonty Rhodes.

VIDEO: Former Proteas legend Jonty Rhodes chats all-things cricket

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One of the Proteas’ most iconic cricketers in both one-day internationals and Tests since their return from isolation, Rhodes, who is now on the coaching staff of Indian Premier League side the Mumbai Indians, says the International Cricket Council (to whom a proposal for a realignment of power will shortly be placed) have a difficult job.

“They really do: there seem to be warring factions all over ... it’s a bit like Survivor; you’ve got this guy on this team and this guy on that and you form alliances and suddenly change alliances, and so on,” Rhodes told Sport24.

“I was recently in Abu Dhabi and saw my old team-mate Dave Richardson (ICC general manager) and he was saying that to keep everybody happy is (tricky); you’ve always got to be a politician in many respects.

“I don’t think it (the feared marginalisation of all but the big three) is going to happen ... if you think England playing Australia the whole time: they’ve just had 10 Ashes Tests in a row and by the end people were probably pretty tired of it, even though Australians were delighted to have won the (second series) five-zip.

“I know India have requested a bigger (say) because they generate so much of the earning capacity in world cricket ... but look, there’s always been a lot that goes on behind the boundary, from the days when South Africa came back from isolation in the early Nineties.

“There was so much wheeler-dealing going on behind the scenes. But that’s going to happen; boards, politicians will do their thing, but as long as players are going to get the opportunity to go out and express themselves and show their skills – I think the game is in a really good state, personally.”

Asked whether he feared South Africa might start playing minnow countries rather more than the financial superpowers, he said: “We are a very popular team, though obviously just not with the same following as India.

“It was disappointing to only play two Tests recently against India, of course, but the situation has not been that different in the past between South Africa and Australia, where one doesn’t want to tour the other at certain times of the year because of the summers we share.

“As far as touring England is concerned, you’d think we’re still going to be a good draw-card. Lots of South Africans live over there and good cricket is always played between us ... I don’t see us being totally shoved to the side.

“A lot of stuff is spoken about but doesn’t necessarily come to pass.

“I also think a (global view) is that most of the best cricketers everywhere certainly want to keep playing the Test game, because of its very nature: a real test of your batting skills, bowling skills and mental capacity and ability to weather pressure on a continuous basis ... players want that.

“There’s enough buy-in between cricket boards and now players’ associations and so on in most countries for Test cricket to be preserved. Five-day cricket is the ultimate format.”

Rhodes said it would be beneficial if frosty relations between the respective Indian and South African boards could be mended soon.

“Everybody needs to do that! You want to have good relations with a country like (India). It’s not just about Test cricket, but also experiencing their unique conditions and being exposed to the incredible skills you witness in the IPL, for example.

“You really do want to see U19 cricketers, say, from our shores getting over there to play in their taxing environment.

“If South African cricket can mend that frostiness with India, it’s good for all ... the boards and the players.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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