There’s been an international series called off without a ball bowled, leagues left without television rights, and unexpected gestures for the Black Lives Matter movement. What exactly is going on with Cricket South Africa?
Warning: there’s absolutely no way this article could completely cover the current state of cricket administration in South Africa. But it will give you a taste.
The most recent bits: after hosting England for a three match T20i series which they lost 3-0, South Africa then had to cancel their five match 50 over series due to a rise in covid cases in both camps. A possible Eco-bubble breach was given as the reason and the mudslinging that followed proved an unfortunate episode.
From Cricket South Africa’s perspective you could understand the frustration, as it was these England fixtures as well as a forthcoming tour by Australia that’s desperately needed to alleviate some of their debt.
Finance remains their most pressing issue due to the failure to secure a broadcasting deal and a title sponsor for their Global T20 League in 2017 which could have rivaled the successes of the Indian Premier League and the Big Bash in Australia.
However there remains the much more important problem of racial tensions which has become exasperated by the Black Lives Matter movement. South Africa still will not take a knee as other teams have which leaves the awkward situation of opposing teams not making the gesture so as not to embarrass the home side.
Black Lives Matter remains a thorny issue in the South African cricket community as one would expect, with several players backing the movement and others opposing. However management of the national team have been desperate to draw a line under the issue since a culture camp held in Kruger Park last August.
But awkwardness remains palpable. After players took a knee for the 3TC Solidarity Cup, it was then insisted by management that South Africa would instead wear black armbands in a show of solidarity with the fight against gender-based violence and in memory of the victims of Covid19. Then in a strange display before the first test match against Sri Lanka, it was also decided that players would raise a fist before the game.
If this all sounds chaotic, you’re not alone. But thankfully one issue has been resolved: South Africa have won a game by beating Sri Lanka after a long dry spell. Everyone is always much happier in a winning camp, and the squad will hope to continue that form into the second test match.
For a more comprehensive view check out Jarrod Kimber’s interview with Firdose Moonda on his podcast Red Inker: