Staff in dark about troubled T20GL

TMG Digital


TELFORD VICE in Cape Town

T20 Global League (T20GL) staff have yet to be properly informed that the tournament has been postponed, Times Media has learnt.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) said on October 10 that the event, which was to have started on November 3, had been put on hold for a year.

CSA claim the T20GL will run at a loss of US$25-million — or more than half the board’s current cash reserves.

But insiders say personnel experienced in running T20 tournaments in other countries, and who had been appointed for the T20GL, have had to glean information about their fate from unofficial sources.

If they want compensation they will have to get in the queue with the players and coaches who were to have been involved in the competition and are now considering legal action.

The staff were hired by Ortus Sport and Entertainment, the company that was hawking the T20GL rights on CSA’s behalf.

CSA are in the process of negotiating a settlement to severe ties with Ortus. Sources say the company’s founder, Venu Nair, is demanding R15-million to shut up and go away.

But while Nair is talking his way into a fat payment the people his company appointed have through no fault of their own lost a job and not been told why.

T20 franchises and venues are typically staffed by small armies of functionaries who tend to work far longer hours than players or coaches, and for exponentially less money.

For instance, Royal Challengers Bangalore turned up in South Africa for the inaugural edition of the now defunct Champions League T20 sporting — according to the backs of their official shirts — a “chief podcaster” and a “chief blogger”.

But at least one tournament logistics expert smelt a rat when the T20GL, or Ortus, came calling.

“I had a feeling that this was going to happen based purely on gut,” he said. “When I was asked if I was keen to get involved I turned them down.”

He might have been spooked by the alarm bells rung by the fact that Nair registered Ortus as recently as April having had knowledge of the T20GL, and that Nair had what could be seen as an unhealthily close relationship with former CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat.

CSA said on September 28 that Lorgat’s contract, which was to have run until 2019, had been terminated with immediate effect.

Legal representatives of Ortus and Nair have since contested these allegations‚ and are in the process of drafting a formal complaint.

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Leading Edge: CSA need to tell us the truth

Come clean with the public. Get rid of those responsible. Don’t do it again.

Sunday Times


TELFORD VICE in Cape Town

“DOABLE?” It isn’t often, in this reporter’s experience, that someone as overtly confident as Haroon Lorgat asks questions like that.

But, with a sharply curious glint in his eye, he had asked, and this reporter was among several present who, either verbally or noddingly, answered: “Oh yes.”

How wrong we all were.

It was the afternoon of June 19 in the kind of London hotel that charges extraordinary prices for ordinary coffee.

All around us as we stood there the debris from the launch of the T20 Global League (T20GL) was being cleared with crass efficiency. It had been a tacky, overblown affair, but what about T20 isn’t?

Lunch was on the house for all, but the champagne was for the exclusive quaffing of franchise owners. Or so we were told.

Four months on the fizz has gone and what’s being cleared is not tinsel and tables but the tournament itself. For a year, at least. And who is going to touch these damaged goods then?

Lorgat had asked whether the T20GL was “doable”. Considering his expertise and experience, and Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) proven talent for pulling rabbits out of hats like this, there was only one answer, the aforementioned, “Oh yes.”

Trouble is, you need a hat — which was whisked away on Tuesday when, with Lorgat unceremoniously removed from the equation as well as his job as CSA’s chief executive, his replacement in an acting capacity, Thabang Moroe, declared it a “no-brainer” that a venture that was already losing millions and would haemorrhage millions more should be put on ice.

And that just four days after he had said, “I will serve CSA with pride and make sure we deliver on the promises we’ve made as far as the country’s concerned, and that promise is delivering this league.

“We will start on November 3.”

Moroe seems unlike cricket’s other suits, and in good ways. He is accessible, tries not to talk around corners, and, when he is pissed off with you, tells you why.

Endearingly, the jersey he wore to a press conference in Bloemfontein last Friday was ripped in the left armpit. You couldn’t imagine the tautly tailored Lorgat out and about in such a state.

But, as CSA’s vice-president and a member — along with independent directors Louis von Zeuner and Iqbal Khan — of the sub-committee established specifically to keep the T20GL’s cards close to CSA’s chest, at Moroe’s desk is where this stinking zombie of a buck now stops.

Simply, did he and the rest of CSA grow a brain between last Friday and Tuesday? What was it about the secrecy in which, they have said, Lorgat shrouded his T20GL dealings that did not ring alarm bells months ago?

It’s not good enough for CSA to say they didn’t know what tricks Lorgat was turning behind their backs, and that they took action once they did know.

You are spending not a little money and committing serious amounts of other resources to an ambitious and important project, and you don’t demand to know what’s going on at every step? What the hell is wrong with you?

As much as CSA are trying to pin this rap on Lorgat — and they are trying conspicuously hard — they cannot escape their own failings in what has snowballed into a cautionary saga of what happens bullshit baffles brains.

Come clean with the cricketminded public. Get rid of those responsible. Don’t do it again.

Doable?

How soon is too soon to plan for the World Cup?

Sunday Times


TELFORD VICE in Cape Town

OTTIS Gibson took a deep breath, allowed himself a shallow sigh, glanced diagonally downward, and tried not to frown too obviously. Then he answered, with due respect, a question that — to him, it seemed — was premature.

“We’re looking at 34 or 35 games between now and 2019 and the idea between Faf, the selectors and I is to have a look at players who might be on the fringes,” Gibson said. “We have to give players opportunities so that in a year’s time we can narrow that pool down.

“At the moment we need a wide pool of players to look at. We also need to determine the type of players, bearing in mind the conditions in England, that we’re going to need.

“They need opportunities for the next year so that we can make better judgements going forward. Then we finally need to narrow down to 15 or 16 players we feel can play at the World Cup.

“It’s still a long way but that’s the plan.”

The 2019 World Cup is more than 18 months away. Is it too soon to nail down a hard and fast plan for the tournament, or is that the kind of attention to detail required to win it?

“When Bob Woolmer sat us down it was probably just under a year-and-a-half away,” Allan Donald said about South Africa’s preparations for the 1999 World Cup. “He explained to us, individually, what the situation was and what our roles would be.

“For him it was about making sure that we kept upskilling and getting stronger as a unit in terms of our confidence.”

South Africa had plenty of opportunities to up those skills: they played 44 one-day internationals between November 1997 and March 1999.

South Africa’s 1999 World Cup ended, in a tied semi-final against Australia at Edgbaston, with Donald and Lance Klusener looking at each other like a couple of cows at an abattoir.

But Donald would have other, happier World Cup memories, some of them while perched on a boundaryside cooler box in Dhaka watching New Zealand undo South Africa in the 2011 quarterfinal.

How had the Kiwis approached that tournament, in which they lost to beaten finalists Sri Lanka in the semis?

“They didn’t worry about it too much,” Donald, then New Zealand’s bowling coach, said. “Dan Vettori made it very clear that they never put too much emphasis on how big a deal the World Cup is.

“His philosophy was that the best group of players will step forward about eight to 10 months out. John Wright [the coach] went with that.”

New Zealand have not won the World Cup, but they’ve reached the final — in 2015, when they went down to Australia — and only twice in 10 trips to the tournament have they not reached the knockout rounds.

South Africa have played in seven World Cups and just once — at home in 2003 — did they not make it to the play-off stages. Somehow that kind of record is a bigger deal here than in New Zealand.

“Maybe that’s the way to go,” Donald said. “New Zealand have always played expansive, confident cricket at World Cups; that’s why they’re always in the mix.”

Might Gibson have that effect on South Africa?

“Ottis is a smooth, calm guy and I think he’ll bring that to this team.”

Amen, you can hear a nation thinking.

De Kock, Amla smash records, Bangladesh

TMG Digital


TELFORD VICE in Cape Town

QUINTON de Kock and Hashim Amla won the most one-sided match in limited overs history for South Africa in Kimberley on Sunday.

In the process they crushed any hope Bangladesh had of celebrating Mushfiqur Rahim’s historic hundred with a win.

Mushfiqur’s unbeaten 110 was the first century scored by a Bangladeshi in any of the 34 matches they have played against South Africa, regardless of the format, and their total of 278/7 was their highest in an ODI versus the South Africans.

But risibly harmless bowling saw South Africa chase down the target with 7.1 overs remaining and all 10 wickets standing.

The 282 runs De Kock and Amla shared represents a world-record thrashing, surpassing the 256 runs Jason Roy and Alex Hales shared in England’s 10-wicket win over Sri Lanka at Edgbaston in June last year.

“When you’re bossing the game it’s easy to throw your wicket away when you’re 150 without loss, but the guys were hungry,” appreciative captain Faf du Plessis said.

De Kock’s undefeated 168, which he scored off 145 balls with 21 fours and two sixes, was his 14th ton in ODIs.

Amla extended his record as South Africa’s champion centurion in the format to 26 with his 110 not out, the product of 112 deliveries that included eight fours.

The partnership was the joint-third highest for the first wicket in all ODI cricket, and South Africa’s highest for any wicket against any opponents.

It made De Kock and Amla the country’s most successful pair of batsmen. No other couple of South Africans have scored as many runs together in ODIs as the 3 664 owned by De Kock and Amla.

Bangladesh’s problem wasn’t that their bowlers — all seven of them — performed especially poorly or that their fielders squandered opportunities.

Instead, the issue was that their utterly harmless attack would have struggled to dismiss schoolchildren on a pitch offered neither movement off the seam nor turn, and with cosy straight boundaries and a fast outfield only adding to the challenge.

So, despite their batting success Bangladesh were always likely to struggle to keep South Africa’s batting line-up in check at a ground where the lowest total yet defended in an ODI is New Zealand’s 279/8 in January 2013, when the South Africans lost half their wickets to runouts and were dismissed for 252.

The first chance offered came in the 38th over, when Amla, on 94, blipped a return catch at Taskin Ahmed — who couldn’t untangle himself from his follow-through smartly enough to hold on.

Five balls before Bangladesh were put out of their misery, De Kock was dropped by Nasir Hossain at long-on off Mashrafe Mortaza.

Not that the Bangladeshis looked too upset. Perhaps they’re getting used to taking a shellacking: in their last 83 overs in the field in ODIs they have claimed only one wicket.

The rest of South Africa’s batsmen — which included AB de Villiers in his comeback game from an optional break and David Miller in his 100th ODI — could only sit with their noses pressed to the dressingroom window and dream of getting a knock in Paarl on Wednesday.

Mushfiqur took guard in the 15th over and raised his bat to celebrate his fifth ODI hundred in the 45th, to the raucous delight of scores of Bangladeshi supporters.

He took 108 balls to get to three figures, and in all faced 116 deliveries and hit 11 fours and two sixes.

Although helped by the conditions and indifferent bowling — Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir excepted — Mushfiqur earned his applause with a plucky, error-free innings.

His effort was made more impressive by the fact that, a week ago, he was hospitalised after being hit on the helmet by a bouncer from Duanne Olivier during the second test in Bloemfontein.

Rabada delivered a fine opening spell of six overs in which he took 1/11 on his way to a haul of 4/43, and Tahir — who had Kayes dropped on 16 by De Kock in his first over — claimed 1/45.

Miller hunts diamonds in Kimberley

You could blame the selectors or transformation imperatives for the gaps in Miller’s playing record, or the man himself — he had reached 40 only four times in his previous 16 innings, and was not out just twice, when he was dropped after South Africa’s series in India in October 2015.

Sunday Times


TELFORD VICE in Cape Town

KIMBERLEY is as far from Las Vegas as you can get. Almost 17 000 kilometres, and that’s only in distance. For instance, there are 104 casinos in Las Vegas. In Kimberley? Two.

So, does what happens in Kimberley stay in Kimberley, like it does in Vegas?

Not so fast, David Miller said slowly: “It’s not the biggest ground, and not the biggest city or town, and there’s not much going on.”

If nothing happens in Kimberley, will there be anything to stay in Kimberley?

A one-day series against Bangladesh anywhere except in Bangladesh is as close to nothing happening as cricket can get. Even in Kimberley, where the first of the three matches will be played on Sunday.

But there is a diamond in the dust for Miller: he will play his 100th ODI on Sunday. It’s taken him more than seven years to get there, and in the process he’s missed 47 of South Africa’s games in the format.

You could blame the selectors or transformation imperatives for the gaps in Miller’s playing record, or the man himself — he had reached 40 only four times in his previous 16 innings, and was not out just twice, when he was dropped after South Africa’s series in India in October 2015.

But, in Miller’s last dozen trips to the crease, he has passed 70 twice and 100 twice more, all of those innings unbeaten.

Might Sunday’s game, given that it is likely to be played on a surface as flat as the Bangladeshis could be after being hammered by 333 runs and an innings and 254 in the test series, give Miller opportunities to keeping cashing in his chips?

“I feel a good energy about this little town and the pitch is always a good one,” he said.

Certainly, Bangladesh will make tougher opposition than they did in the tests. They prefer their cricket balls white, and they seem to prefer a captain other than Mushfiqur Rahim, who after the tests came in for a media bashing even harsher than the clang he took on the side of his helmet in Bloemfontein last Sunday courtesy of Duanne Olivier.

Later that night, the match won and lost inside three days, several members of Bangladesh’s squad roamed a half-built shopping centre to shelter from a storm outside and, perhance, hunt and gather supper.

But Mushfiqur was nowhere to be seen, and when the players settled into a seafood restaurant star allrounder Shakib Al Hasan — who had done an AB de Villiers and opted out of the test series — sat at the head of table.

Just like Shakib, De Villiers returns on Sunday. Just like Mushfiqur, he is no longer his team’s captain.

That job is now Faf du Plessis’, which is a good thing for all concerned. But he will, of course, be happy to count De Villiers among his shiniest gems.

The series moves to Paarl on Wednesday and ends in East London next Sunday. You could call it the badlands tour, which might mean Kimberley has more in common with Las Vegas than thought.

Even so, Vegas has, per capita, more than four times as many churches as Kimberley.

Here’s hoping some of the latter’s are emptier on Sunday morning and the pews at the Diamond Oval a touch fuller.

 

 

SA’s 2019 World Cup campaign starts

In six months in 2014 Shakib was fined and banned for gesturing towards his genitals on live television, got physical with a spectator he believed was bothering his wife, and was banned for what the suits called “a severe attitude problem”.

TMG Digital


TELFORD VICE in Cape Town

BANGLADESH have never beaten South Africa in a match of any description in this country, a fact that seems unlikely to be made redundant when the teams meet in a one-day international in Kimberley on Sunday.

Not that Faf du Plessis was reading from that script on Saturday, when he said, “Bangladesh have proven in white-ball cricket that they can perform outside of their own country, as recently as the Champions Trophy where they made the semi-finals.

“Their record in test cricket away from home is completely different. But they’re a very different side when it comes to white-ball cricket.”

The visitors have Shakib Al Hasan, the world’s top-ranked allrounder in all three formats, back in harness — which can only do them good in the wake of the thrashings they suffered in the test series.

With Shakib no doubt watching from his couch having taken a break from all that, South Africa won by 333 runs in Potchefstroom and by an innings and 254 runs in Bloemfontein, where the match didn’t make it to the end of the third day.

But does a batting and bowling Shakib trump a batting and fielding AB de Villiers?

De Villiers will play his first match for South Africa since the Champions Trophy in England in June. Few players in any sport in any side anywhere can have as electrifying an effect on their teammates and their opponents alike.

Shakib is a fine player but he’s more arresting off the field than on. In fact, he’s lucky not to have been arrested.

In 2010 he verbally abused spectators who moved near the sightscreen during play.

In 2011 he reacted overtly to being booed by his home crowd in Dhaka.

And all in the space of six months in 2014 he was fined and banned for gesturing towards his genitals on live television, got physical with a spectator he believed was bothering his wife, and was banned for what the suits called “a severe attitude problem”.

You don’t say. By comparison De Villiers is a choirboy, albeit one who has acquired what used to be called an artistic temperament in that he rather than his employers — in South Africa at least — decides when he will turn up for work.

Shakib is a member of the same club, whose numbers are only going grow as cricket’s collection of T20 circuses becomes steadily bigger.

There are, then, reasons to be cheerful that the T20 Global League has not been cleared for take-off just yet.

Just as there is reason to look forward to Sunday’s game as a contest between a team who know they are better than their dismal Champions Trophy campaign in England in June, and another who will be more confident in this format and keen to atone for their awful performances in the test series.

And there’s Ottis Gibson, who has been hired as South Africa’s coach with the naked ambition of winning the World Cup.

“We want to prove a point when it comes to one-day cricket. Last year was a very good year for us, bar the Champions Trophy.

“We got ourselves to No. 1 in the world by playing some really good, dominating cricket.”

What’s the plan for doing that?

“We’re going to try and look at more players than we usually do,” Du Plessis said. “In the past two or three years we’ve been a fairly settled one-day unit; there’s not been a lot of guys coming in.

“But we’ve got a vision to see how we can try and grown players in two years, how they can fit into the strongest XI — the World Cup side.

“We want to look at 20-plus players over the next two years.”

Starting with 11 in Kimberley on Sunday.

Imran Tahir: diamonds on the soles of his boots

TMG Digital


TELFORD VICE in Cape Town

WITH Imran Tahir’s season yet to begin his wicket column is empty as a pocket with nothing to lose. But he knows there’s only one way to lose those bowling blues.

“I’m obviously not here to buy diamonds: I’m here to play for the Proteas with honour,” Tahir said on Thursday in — you guessed it, Paul Simon fans — Kimberley.

His seventh South African summer as an international player starts there on Sunday in the first of three one-day internationals against Bangladesh.

That would be the same Bangladesh who were thrashed by 333 runs and an innings and 254 runs in the test series. But don’t expect them to disappear down Kimberley’s Big Hole quite as easily as their form on this tour would suggest, what with star allrounder Shakib Al Hasan back from the break that kept him out of the tests.

Not that Tahir was too fussed about exactly who might be in the visitors’ line-up.

“It’s not just another game for me, I’m really serious about the series,” he said.

“We’re playing against an international team. You can’t just come and wave your arms and beat them.

“They proved that in the Champions Trophy [in England in June], where they qualified for the semis.”

That attitude is part of what has made him the world’s top bowler in the format, no mean feat for an itinerant 38-year-old leg spinner.

“I’m very lucky to play for the Proteas out of 50-million people,” he said.

“I love cricket. It’s my life, and I want to give everything for South Africa.”

Tahir has been saying much the same thing since he made his debut against West Indies in Delhi at the 2011 World Cup. The tournament clearly remains an important spark plug in his engine.

“If we’re looking towards the World Cup we need to play really hard cricket,” he said. “This will be a good platform for the World Cup.”

A World Cup that is, mind, still almost two years away. But already thoughts are turning to England in 2019.

“We need to win all the games [leading up to the tournament],” Tahir said, then he rephrased: “Winning or losing doesn’t matter as long as you try your best and cover all the areas you need to.”

Whatever. South Africans will be happy as long as he keeps bowling with diamonds on the soles of his boots.