Administrators on a sticky wicket

Pat Symcox (Supplied)
Pat Symcox (Supplied)
The media frenzy over the team selection for the New Zealand semi-final has opened up a horrible can of worms. Those who hold the game dear will find it tough to digest in a hurry.

The revelations and allegations of interference in the team selection does the face of SA cricket no good at all. Sadly, again the poor players – Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott – are caught in the middle, while Russell Domingo has been placed in an awkward situation.

An allegation of an SMS sent to coach Domingo at some unearthly hour from the CEO of CSA to propose a selection change, smacks of political interference by someone who feels entitled to veto a team for whatever reason. It’s obvious that if your boss tells you to, “pick this bloke ahead of that bloke” you don’t have too many options other than to try and convince everyone that they need to accept it and move on, because he holds the power.

I really feel for Domingo. Here was a coach on the brink of doing great things and who had fought tooth and nail his entire coaching career to achieve the ultimate reward of winning a CWC. Then at 1am, he allegedly receives an SMS instructing him to make team changes.

Another victim in the mess is poor Philander. It really isn’t his fault that he was selected ahead of another player, even if he was carrying a slight injury. He could have said “guys, I’m not fully fit” but who would not want to be part of a World Cup semi-final if you think you can get through the match. Remember, he’s a wonderful bowler who has served our country well many times before.

In an ideal world, only conditions, opposition and strategy form part of the decision-making process and selectors are entrusted to make the calls. They stand or fall by those decisions.

However, the big question for me is where is our convenor of selectors, Andrew Hudson, in this mess? Surely as the man entrusted with the final say on team selection, he should have immediately come out with some sort of a statement to clear up exactly what happened.

My take on this saga, which encompasses transformation, quotas and the new catchphrase targets, is that transparency of what is being done isn’t being dealt with in the correct way.

Getting our team to be truly representative of this country is a goal that we should all be trying to achieve and, in fact, embrace. No one wants to see any player disadvantaged through colour, creed or religion. I personally don’t know of a single cricketer who hasn’t in some way contributed towards achieving the end goal. Some have spent time coaching in the townships, for instance, while all of us in the 90s contributed through a fee taking off our contract. And some even today, assist wherever possible to sponsor talent.

However, ‘Joe Public’ who pays good money and takes his kids to grounds to watch, who wakes up and sits glued to the television in hope, who gets to the airport when the team comes home even in defeat, is the person we need to take along the road of believing that the process being undertaken is good for the game in South Africa.

I believe that can only be done by being absolutely honest in dealing with anything that remotely resembles something he may not understand. Right now, that aspect of good corporate governance has failed dismally and those charged with responsibility need to be taken to task.

It’s obvious that there are going to be detractors on either side. There are people who still hold prejudices one way or the other, and there are some people who are hanging on to issues that don’t do the game any good. Being honest with them is really all one can do.

The trick of course is to be able to marry transformation with winning. That is not an easy task. It probably is an almost impossible one really. And that is where we need to be brutally honest as a nation. While we cannot have our cake and eat it, what we can do is ask that our teams do the best they can and that our administrators stay honest in what they are doing.

Anything outside of that creates mistrust and dissention. Cricket certainly doesn’t need that now or ever and neither do the poor players implicated in these most unfortunate sagas.

Former South Africa international Pat Symcox played at the 1996 Cricket World Cup, and is a self-proclaimed cricket fanatic, struggling golfer and addicted writer.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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