SA's problems run deeper than just the poor World Cup campaign

12 July 2019 - 13:33 By Telford Vice
Ottis Gibson (Head Coach) and Faf du Plessis during the South African national men's cricket team arrival press conference at Media Centre, OR Tambo International Airport on July 08, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ottis Gibson (Head Coach) and Faf du Plessis during the South African national men's cricket team arrival press conference at Media Centre, OR Tambo International Airport on July 08, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Rebuilding South Africa’s team successfully in the wake of their dismal men’s World Cup campaign will require the game to take a hard look at itself from top to bottom.

Faf du Plessis’ side lost five of their seven completed games at the tournament and were the first of the ten competing teams to be eliminated from the running for a place in the semi-finals.

But that’s only the visible 10 percent of the iceberg that needs to be fully appreciated to stop South Africa’s ship from sinking‚ cricket in the country is veering towards a possible crisis on and off the field.

Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) coffers are steadily emptying with little sign of being refilled by sponsors who are under pressure in South Africa’s faltering economy.

And who choose not to involve themselves with administrators who would seem intent on alienating players who have launched legal action against CSA over a plan to radically restructure the domestic system.

“I have seen enough team environments where there are elements‚ all the way from the owner or board level‚ down to management‚ coaches and even players‚ where either the wrong people‚ people with misplaced intentions or even incompetence are able to undermine the team or campaign‚” Paddy Upton said.

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Upton was part of the coaching structure with South Africa and India over a span of 20 years and has coached five T20 franchises in India‚ Australia and Pakistan.

He holds four degrees‚ including two Masters‚ and is professor of practice at Deakin University in Victoria‚ Australia.

Despite all that knowledge and experience‚ and understandably‚ Upton can’t say whether the scenario he described has afflicted cricket in South Africa‚ or impacted their World Cup performance.

“I do not know this level of detail surrounding the Proteas at the moment‚ thus it would need closer investigation‚” Upton said.

But even a cursory look suggests plenty needs to be investigated.

South Africa’s under-19 men’s team were trounced 7-0 by Pakistan in a one-day series played in Durban and Pietermaritzburg in the past three weeks.

The emerging men’s side and the University Sports South Africa XI lost four of six games against Sri Lanka’s emerging team in a one-day triangular in Pretoria and including the World Cup‚ that’s only five wins from 21 completed games for those three South Africa teams.

And with the senior side due in India in September for three T20s and Tests‚ those investigations had better start soon.

For an already ailing team‚ that could be the tour that breaks the camel’s back.

South Africa’s last visit there‚ from October to December in 2015‚ is remembered solely for the 3-0 whipping they took in the Test series.

It’s as if they never won both completed T20s‚ nor claimed a hard-fought one-day rubber 3-2.

The white-ball results prompted India’s groundskeepers to remember who pays their salaries‚ and the pitches for the Tests that followed favoured the home side to an ugly degree.

So much so that the International Cricket Council (ICC) ignored the danger of alienating those who sees to it that their salaries are paid‚ and condemned the surface in Nagpur as poor.

The South Africans returned scarred‚ and subsequently lost a home Test series to England for only the second time five rubbers they have played against them in South Africa since re-admission.

Again South Africa won the T20 and ODI series‚ and again it didn’t matter.

Here’s another reason that sounds familiar: England tour South Africa next summer.

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