TELFORD VICE, Johannesburg
TYPE “Webber van Wyk” into your friendly neighbourhood search engine and the top result is “Van Wyk & Webber, Debt Collectors, Randburg”.
In these days of the Kolpak exodus we can use every bit of dark humour we can find. But the joke’s on us.
The name of the player agent who has, if you ask many South Africans, nudged Kyle Abbott, Rilee Rossouw and David Wiese down the river Styx and across the seas to England is not Webber van Wyk.
It’s Weber van Wyk. We trust his parents didn’t name him after a piece of braai equipment.
Another joke. But, in the wake of Russell Domingo’s angry masterclass on the importance of spelling names correctly, perhaps we shouldn’t go there.
Instead, let’s go here: how much of the blame can be laid at the door of player agents or do they provide a reality check cricket desperately needs?
“Death’s got a cause, you know,” an agent who declined to be named for fear of damaging his relationships said with a chuckle.
But seriously …
“We try and make sure it’s a win-win situation. We are principled, professional people and it’s important for us to maintain good relationships with Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the counties.
“You’ve got to think of what’s good for the player but you have to act in their best interests. It’s your job to keep the objectivity in the whole thing.
“So I don’t want to attack Weber van Wyk but I’m grateful Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw are not my clients. It’s been so badly handled.
“You’ve got to be open about these things but I also don’t know how open CSA are in these situations.”
He warned cricket in South Africa “should be afraid of what its going to lose at the bottom” with players not yet 20 moving to New Zealand in concerning numbers.
“Structurally, our franchise system is too tight – there’s only six and we’re not Australia.”
That issue seems set to be addressed what with CSA’s review into domestic cricket calling for the establishment of a seventh franchise to be considered.
But, for some, and despite all arguments to the contrary, the main cause for the player drain will always be that transformation is unfairly denying whites places in teams.
Not so, the agent said: “You can’t feel threatened by transformation. Only an idiot would feel threatened by Hashim Amla, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada being in the national team.
“But if you talk to a white man about quotas you put the fear of God into him.
“The problem in this country is that we confuse quotas with transformation.
“If we had addressed transformation in 1998 or ’99 as aggressively as we are doing now we wouldn’t have this problem.”
Or, as Shakespeare wrote, “The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children.”
Which means this kind of debt collecting could continue in South African cricket for years yet.
And that’s no joke.