TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
WHEN Francois Pienaar talks, people listen. Even when he says, “It’s not that we are the fount of all knowledge; definitely not.”
The World Cup winning Springbok captain spoke on Wednesday on his newest role – as one of the four members of the Cricket SA review panel that will try to get to the bottom of why those other okes in green and gold, the Proteas, have yet to win a World Cup.
“Passion – I love this country.”
That was Pienaar’s reply when he was asked why someone who, in 1995, held the William Webb Ellis Cup aloft in triumph beside a beaming Nelson Mandela would bother with a bunch who, too often, are the best team in the game but not at the tournament.
“It’s not about the sport, it’s about the processes in place,” Pienaar said. “There are four or five things you need to get right – one of them is a bit of luck – to win.
“People think if you have that it’s a guarantee. It’s not. If you do those four or five things really well, you will have a really good chance of winning.
“When you get to the final, it’s a 50-50 call and it’s the smart guys who work out the margins. But what are those margins and how do you recognise them and how do you put processes in place to help the guys handle that when they get there?
“The transfer of knowledge is something I am quite interested in discussing. Do we do that and what are the reasons for us not doing it?”
Perhaps to answer questions asked when he was named on the panel, Pienaar said he was not unfamiliar with cricket.
“I played Nuffield Week, and I was involved in the Indian Premier League marketing with (businessman) Etienne de Villiers when it came here in 2009.”
Not the mention the Australians before the 2001 Ashes.
“They asked me to come and do a session on margins and big games and how you close games down. I was sort of embarrassed – the best cricket team in the world by a long shot, asking me.
“But I found it so interesting. My payment was that I got insight into how they run their team. Steve Waugh as a captain and a leader: wow. I got so much from that.”
Pienaar said he was “not here to make any assumptions”. What he was here to do was “bring different thinking; not being in the sport, coming from outside the sport and from a different sport”.
What Pienaar called the “scope” of the CSA review will be decided at a meeting next Thursday. He said the panel would “get our marching orders” next month.
“What we will try and learn is what are the trends over the last 10 years; look at those trends, look at selection and at all of sorts of stats and come up with recommendations.
“Everything is open for discussion and it should be. If you want to do a proper job, you should have the opportunity to ask questions about all elements that enhance high performance.”
Would the results of the panel’s work be made public?
“In my opinion, they have to be. Otherwise I wouldn’t be involved.”