Pienaar to help light SA cricket’s darkness

Sunday Times


CRICKET SA (CSA) have enlisted the help of a World Cup winner to find out why SA have not won a World Cup.

Francois Pienaar, who led the Springboks to glory in their first attempt to win the William Webb Ellis Cup in 1995, has been appointed to a panel that will try to find light in the darkness that descended again in India last month when SA crashed out of the World T20 in the first round.

A CSA release on Saturday quoted chief executive Haroon Lorgat as saying that “it would be right for us to undertake an objective and thorough review of our national teams’ set-up and performances”.

The panel includes former SA batsman Adam Bacher and sports physiologist Ross Tucker, and will be led by Dawn Mokhobo, a CSA independent director.

Their aim is to “conduct an independent review of the performances of all the national cricket teams”, the release said.

Pienaar could not be reached for comment but Bacher said, “I’m still in the early stages of finding out what the intentions of the review are. A lot will become clear in the next few days about what it is there to achieve.”

Bacher, a chartered accountant who owns a wealth management company, played the last of his 19 tests in 1999 and ended his franchise career in 2007.

“It feels like I’m going to the crease again and getting the adrenaline pumping,” he said. “I’ve been out of the game for a while now watching my boys grow up, and this is a good opportunity to give back.”

Bacher said “we should have more details by Monday”, adding that he planned to meet with CSA general manager Corrie van Zyl this week.

Former Springbok captain and manager Morne du Plessis confirmed he had been approached to be part of the panel but turned down the offer due to prior commitments and because, he said, “I feel I’m not in touch enough with tendencies in modern sport, and especially with cricket”.

SA fell out of the running for the knockout rounds at the World T20 before they had completed their first-round matches for only the second time in the 18 editions of the World Cup, Champions Trophy and WT20 they have contested.

Only England had a higher batting runrate than SA among the 10 teams in the WT20 group stage. But only three attacks were more expensive than SA’s.

The release said the investigation would also deal with SA’s first-round exits from the women’s WT20 and the under-19 World Cup this year.

Lorgat was quoted as saying “we do not intend to place a deadline on this important piece of work”, but insiders say the findings are likely to be presented at the CSA board meeting scheduled for the second week in May.

“The memo (to board members) does not specify any dates, but … it will happen before the sub-committees meet this month,” a high-ranking administrator said on Thursday. It will start within the next 10 days or so.”

Another stalwart administrator concurred on Thursday: “They’re pushing to have it done shortly.”

Lorgat did not respond when asked on Thursday and Friday what the probe would entail, when it would be completed and how the findings would be made public.

Regardless of whether CSA do the latter, sports minister Fikile Mbalula expects a report.

“The minister trusts that CSA have the competency to deal with this issue,” Mbalula’s spokesperson, Esethu Hasane, said.

“But, at the conclusion of the review, CSA will report to the ministry. That is when the minister will get involved.”


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