Don’t pull that World Cup stunt again, players tell suits

Times Media

TELFORD VICE, Cape Town

THE selection controversy that clouded SA’s exit from the World Cup damaged the relationship between Cricket SA (CSA) and the SA Cricketers’ Association (SACA).

The rift has since been repaired, but the player body is anxious that the situation should not arise again – which could complicate CSA’s implementation of their stated policy of “aggressive transformation”.

On June 2, Willie Basson, a member of an Eminent Persons Group who also sits on CSA’s transformation committee, told the Portfolio Committee for Sport and Recreation in Parliament that CSA had made – according to the minutes of the meeting – “mistakes” when they “sent a note to the team management on the eve of the (World Cup) semi-final, reminding them about CSA’s policy on demographic representation”.

The “note” led to Vernon Philander, who had bowled just 20.3 of a possible 70 overs in the tournament due to a hamstring injury, being included for the match against New Zealand, who won a tight contest.

The minutes record that Basson said a consequence of the issue was that “the administrators of CSA had allowed a wide distance to develop between themselves and the players’ association”.

He said “CSA would rectify that challenge by consulting players regularly to make them understand the purpose of the Transformation Charter”.

SACA chief executive Tony Irish confirmed Basson’s version of events.

“I don’t believe that there is currently a ‘wide distance’ between CSA and SACA,” Irish said. “We have moved past the (World Cup) episode.

“It is correct that there was unhappiness amongst many of the players at the time. The most important thing in putting all of that behind the players and the team is for this type of thing not to be repeated.”

But CSA’s policy that at least four players of colour should be in SA’s teams raises the distinct possibility of more selection strife.

That would again unravel ties between CSA and SACA, which fulfills the role of a trade union for players and could, in theory, declare a labour dispute or even call a strike.

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