Question: It was only six months ago that the Proteas were in the doldrums. From a CSA Board perspective, what has led to the change in fortunes?
Answer: Even though we lost in the Caribbean, there was an indication that the team was building something. What we saw around the team from a board perspective encouraged us.
We see a different team, not in terms of personnel, but in terms of team spirit and unity. That is encouraging because it means the team is unifying the country, unifying the nation, like we wanted to.
What it also says to the board is that we must keep supporting the team so that it can continue at this level. We’re also competing against the best, and outdid them, like this series, which is encouraging. It makes me happy to see the number of young players coming through.
Q: Coach Russell Domingo was under severe pressure to keep his job after a string of poor results. Was it a difficult decision for the CSA Board to keep faith in his ability?
A: The decision to keep the coach was not difficult because we knew what we were doing.
I received a number of calls and e-mails asking why we’re keeping the coach. It was very simple. You can’t always blame the coach for the team’s performance. You have to look at contextual factors.
What will the impact be of a feel good decision? Everyone says, sack the coach. But what will the impact of that decision be two months, two years down the line? We need stability, and give the coach confidence that we back him so he can have the freedom to do his thing. That is what has happened.
If we had sacked the coach, everyone would have been happy, but maybe then we would not have had the team playing in the way it is at the moment.
Q: After the Proteas lost captain AB de Villiers, did you believe Faf du Plessis would do such an excellent job leading the team to a 5-0 ODI series whitewash at home and now a Test series win here in Australia?
A: I don’t think one would have imagined the extent of the success the stand-in captain has enjoyed.
But we always knew within the team set-up there were a number of leaders. We knew that one would pick up the baton and go forward with the team. I think he has surpassed expectations. We are happy with Faf in the time he has been given the leadership role.
Q: Does Faf’s success as a leader provide the CSA Board with a headache in terms of extending his tenure once De Villiers rejoins the side?
A: Fortunately we have a captain. He understands that he’s the stand-in captain. I don’t think there is an issue there.
Q: Earlier you mentioned the success of the younger players as particularly pleasing. Why is it so important?
A: It gives you confidence. The problem is when you are over-dependent on individuals. If they don’t perform on the day, the team lose.
But like this series has shown, and the ODI series at home before, anyone can stand up and take responsibility. It secures your future. It creates an environment where even the youngsters believe that if I perform I will get an opportunity.
Q: Is the performance of the younger players a testament to the strength of South Africa’s domestic system?
A: I think what we need to say is that we constantly need to improve it, so it continues to produce players that are ready when they arrive on the international set-up.
That looks after your future. We want to get to a process that when a player is prepared at the lowest level, it has to have a direct goal that it gets straight to a national player. So, when the player gets there he doesn’t get lost.
Q: Transformation in SA cricket is always a burning issue. Does the performances of Temba Bavuma, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, particularly on this tour, vindicate CSA’s stance on transformation?
A: I don’t think it needs validity. I think it is the correctness of what has to be done.
Remember when we deal with transformation it is about redress and also about creating opportunities for everyone. It is the obvious thing to do.
Without getting into any other form of argument, it is the obvious thing to do - to give players opportunities to excel.
I always say: 'I want to see a situation in South Africa that when players get onto the field, they don’t get any other label than the fact that they are players good enough to play.
But to get there you have to make certain decisions to prepare for that (eventuality). I am certain we are going to get there. And when we do, many people are going to forget the painwe had to go through.
Unfortunately, there is this thinking back home that once a player gets into the set-up and the player is not white, that player got there because of certain considerations other than cricket, that’s not on.
We say, don’t pick a player because he is black; pick a player because he’s good enough and then give him the opportunity.
If you don’t do that then you are perpetrating an inequality that has been there in the past. If you pick players because of race, and his colour, you are not doing the player any favours. You are actually destroying the player.
Q: Does it anger you when there is the assumption that transformation equates to a lowering of standards?
A: It doesn’t anger me. It makes me sad in the sense that those people don’t understand what transformation is. It’s actually a perpetration and the very sense of and origins of the thinking that causes us to have transformation today.
Just because a person belongs to a particular race, he cannot perform or from a certain background he cannot perform. To then believe in this day and age because of that fact that a player is going to lower standards, is a perpetration of the idea of the supremacy of the white race. It doesn’t make me angry, it makes me sad. I feel sorry for people who think like that.
Q: Has the match-fixing saga affected CSA’s ability to promote the T20 Challenge?
A: Firstly, we don’t have any evidence of match-fixing. We have evidence of attempted match-fixing.
Obviously we would be foolish to say it has not in a way made people doubt the integrity of the competition. We are continuing to do everything in our power to retain and restore the integrity of the competition.
Next season we want to launch a new T20 Challenge, therefore it is important we do everything to remove and exorcise anything related to match-fixing in our system.
We are hoping to launch a very interesting and huge competition.
Q: The ICC expressed their ‘disappointment’ that Faf du Plessis is appealing his ball-tampering fine. How do you feel about this situation?
A: We need to understand that somebody is at the centre of it. He is taking some serious knocks in terms of his own reputation and integrity.
I don’t think you can be ‘disappointed’ if someone is using available instruments to prove his innocence, whether you like it or not.
That somebody appeals is part of the process.
There is nothing strange to validate your claims.
Q: How has your Adelaide Oval experience been and how far are we away in South Africa in replicating it back home?
A: It is amazing. I can say there is a long way to go. It is a very good thing, there is more happening than just cricket. You want it to be an experience. I am sure half of Adelaide is here because of the activities taking place. It’s like a fashion show!
Q: Lastly, considering all the woes surrounding the Springboks and Bafana Bafana, is it important for national pride that the Proteas are doing well at the moment?
A: When I spoke in Cape Town two weeks ago at the book launch, I said sport needs not only to unite people but also bring joy to people’s lives. I think we need it at this point.
If you look at what’s happening in our country, you need an aspect of national life that inspires confidence and I think the Proteas are doing that at the moment.
Sunday IndependentCricket South Africa president Chris Nenzani sat down with Zaahier Adams, who is on tour with the Proteas, for an exclusive interview.
Original source: CSA president bats for Faf, Domingo