It’s clear that for modern cricket there are just too few days in the year. Think about it; the powers that be have to annually schedule, in addition to domestic cricket, Tests, ODIs and, the key to paying for it all, T20s. They also have to factor in the health and freshness of players and allow them time to top up their salaries by availing of Ram Slams or Big Bashes, or whatever the next gimmick will be called.
Money is also tight despite possible green shoots of economic recovery. We have looming discussions here with the Cricket South Africa (CSA) that could see an Australian style stand-off over whether or not revenue sharing will be continued. It’s a constant tricky trade off and is now part of the game.
If CSA gets it wrong we will see a rush to complete more Kolpak moves while the possibility of them still exists. You can’t blame the players as they have to look after their futures and many have simply ignored this aspect of life in the pursuit of excellence and progress to the top of the game. That’s another story and we will deal with it in time. What is concerning to read are statements from CSA that they, not the players, make the money and that the players are “employees”. Try doing business without your employees, Mr acting CEO. Statements in that tone will not help.
It’s also a balancing PR act for all sides. If top players are lost, CSA will get lashed for greed and insensitivity, but if a player gets his image wrong he can end up losing popularity, and thus, profitability.
Look at AB! He went from the darling of the country to being seen as someone who was picking his games. If the Players Association is seen to push too hard it will also be labeled as biased and unreasonable. There has to be a healthy tension between all sides but the present situation is unsustainable. Cool heads are required.
Thankfully the Indian and then Australian series are soon to start. This will take attention away from administrators and onto the pitch. What prospects these tours have in store…
The Indians are a magnificent squad and also bring an image of national deities with them. That so many South Africans have roots in the subcontinent adds to this mystique. Can they win away from home as they do in India? Can they win in SA? Will we stoop to the pitch fixing level they did in order to exact revenge?
On the latter, I hope not and, again, appeal for cricket to centrally contact groundsmen, or curators as they are called, to the international body, as is done with umpires. Ordered pitches should be stopped in favour of fair and varied tests between bat and ball. Make it an independent issue all over the world and the game will gain.
We need a close and spectacular series to boost cricket again, and with the Springboks and Bafana Bafana at low levels, this is key for sponsorship as well. Then the Aussies arrive, fresh with the Ashes, and away we go again.
It going to be hectic and fun but you have to ask why we seem to get get periods of nothing, dross and second rate stuff interspersed with such bounty. Surely better planning is needed?
It’s good to get the focus on what happens on the pitch and on top series. However, this shouldn’t blind us to the fact that cricket needs an overhaul in terms of calendar, remuneration and the way players are prepared for life after the sport.
If it is not done there will be another Kerry Packer waiting in the wings.