TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
CRICKET SA (CSA) must have thought they had got away with facing a spell of long-hops from the Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation in Parliament on Tuesday.
CSA’s version of how an out-of-form, match-unfit Vernon Philander was picked for the World Cup semi-final – thus recklessly exposing one of the world’s best bowlers to unfair claims that he is a quota player – was swallowed whole and uncritically.
The committee said cricket was not reaching rural areas enough, CSA hinted that an as yet unsigned memorandum of understanding with sport minister Fikile Mbalula would have a transformation focus and both sets of suits wallowed in self-indulgent media bashing.
Then came this from Mncedisi Filtane of the UDM: “This is a high level presentation but where are the programmes? You have deliberately withheld them. Why are you withholding this information? What game are you playing with us? Where is the meat?”
Filtane’s contention was that CSA had not revealed in the document they presented to the committee the nitty gritty of how they planned to meet their stated transformation targets.
CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat tried to interrupt him “on a point or order” but he was promptly shushed by chairperson Beauty Nomvuzo Dlulane, who also tut-tutted Filtane for his robust approach.
But Filtane’s flashy fuming seemed to sweep the cobwebs from ANC committee member Strike Ralegoma, who stirred to ask, “Aaron Phangiso did not even play a single game (at the World Cup) but there is no outcry about that. We can’t just say ‘no quotas’ when they are in our policy regulations.”
CSA president Chris Nenzani offered a snappy enough retort to Filtane: “The only game we are playing is cricket; the only level of target we have not specified is at national level.”
Which was true. CSA said they wanted eight black players in schools squads of 15, three in university XIs, six in semi-professional and franchise teams and, in national sides, “50% target but merit selection prevails”.
But Filtane’s assertion was valid. The details of how CSA are going to put their money where transformation’s mouth is were nowhere to be found in the 37 A4 pages they presented on Tuesday.
Lorgat had earlier tried to say that the relevant information was elsewhere. But, clearly, Filtane was having none of that.
“I’ve been through this presentation three times,” he said with disgust.
CSA were also criticised for not stipulating deadlines for attaining their unstipulated transformation goals.
The three-hour meeting got off to a rocky start when Dlulane, having cast her eye disapprovingly at CSA’s delegation of Nenzani, deputy president Peter Cyster, Lorgat and transformation manager Max Jordaan took their seats, said, “I see there are no women among yourselves – this is SA.”
Dlulane also had a bone to pick with “destructive media houses”. That chimed with the third point in the introduction to CSA’s document, which read, “Apart from one mischievous CWC (Cricket World Cup) selection issue media coverage was been grudgingly positive.” Curiously, the word “grudgingly” was rendered in italics.
Continuing that tone, Lorgat said, “Often when they (the media) say nothing we’re satisfied because that’s just the way the media operates.”
Nenzani struck an alarming note when he said, “Not everything you read is true and sometimes what is true should not be in the public domain until certain things have been done.”
With that, those who believe Philander’s inclusion was ordered by CSA’s board had reason to do so even more.