Proteas fans appeal for honesty

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In recent days, one CSA statement after the other followed hot on the heels of media revelations, leaving cricket followers bewildered and angry. It was the reason why former Proteas selector Craig Matthews had taken to social media to offer CSA a solution to end the nauseating saga.

“We would have more respect for CSA if they just told the truth - if there is a quota, let’s announce it and all get on with it.”

A few days after the Proteas were dumped out of the World Cup by New Zealand, media reports saying the semifinal team selection had been interfered with, surfaced. The main thrust of the media coverage was that the change was made because of quota considerations, which prescribed that at least four players of colour had to be included in the side - which since has been confirmed by CSA in a statement.

Media suspicion was aroused at the time because Vernon Philander, who at the time was battling with injury, was included ahead of the in-form Kyle Abbott. During the semifinal Philander withdrew from the action at one stage, and his place on the field was taken by Farhaan Behardien.

The media also alleged that the Proteas management included Philander after heeding an apparent SMS from CSA Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat saying the team had to include at least four players of colour. Interestingly, in earlier matches at the World Cup, there were times when the Proteas fielded only three players of colour.

After the team’s return to South Africa, the speculative SMS story reached boiling point and Lorgat responded with a statement in which he said: “This is utter nonsense reporting with false allegations being made. There was no SMS, WhatsApp or BBM sent by me to the coach.”

For the moment, it looked like the statement had done a job in terms of damage control but then Mike Horn’s comments were reported in the media. Horn was called into the Proteas’ camp to bolster the players’ mental strength and appointed as High Performance Coach.

Horn was attending the Laureus Sports Awards in Shanghai when South African journalists raised the matter of the alleged selection interference with him.

“It was yet again, it is what it is, and we should take it as it is. It doesn’t matter how politics or, or the quota influenced, influenced the players.

“So what actually happened was: okay, the team, um, the team was the team that played and we’re not going into any, any, any politics because but it, it, it had a role to play.

“And I had to do a little bit of a talk to the guys, you know after the team was selected and a little bit of energy was taken away from the quarterfinals where the right team could have played (corrects himself) were played …”

On Horn’s arrival at the World Cup, Proteas head coach Russell Domingo announced in Sydney: “Mike Horn’s joined us. He has done a lot scarier things in the world than facing Dale Steyn or Morne Morkel. He has done some extreme things and he will put it all in perspective for us over the next couple of days about what pressure is like and fear is like and being out of comfort zone.”

Horn knows a thing or two about winning World Cups. He was in India’s camp when they won the Cricket World Cup in 2011. Three years on he worked with the German football squad which won the FIFA World Cup 2014. He is a world-class motivational speaker and two days after his comments, CSA published a letter from Horn who expressed his regret for the controversy in the aftermath of his comments.

Cricket South Africa did not confirm Horn’s original comments as honest or lies but it does end the statement with a note which says: “The president of CSA has appointed members of the Board to conduct a review of the matter.”

It suggested that there was a reason to investigate Horn’s comments in Shanghai.

The president of CSA is Chris Nenzani, and while the controversy was raging, he told the media: “We (CSA) have always emphasised that national team selection must be on merit.”

That of course is not true given the guidelines that the national selectors are expected to adhere.

On Saturday evening, Cricket South Africa said in a lengthy statement that their review panel of three independent directors found no evidence of political interference. They did not, however, mention the names of the directors.

Last week, the intrigue also delivered a side show when Allan Donald, the Proteas’ bowling coach, resigned and his former new-ball partner Fanie de Villiers responded by saying: “I do not believe it at all. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if there’s another story behind his decision. Allan would have earned a lot of money as bowling coach of the national team and I don’t think you just turn your back on that.”

By this time, all cricket fans want is for CSA to be honest and transparent rather than respond with comment that point to a show of self-preservation.

Former Proteas selector Craig Matthews has taken to social media to offer CSA a solution to end the selection saga.

Original source: Proteas fans appeal for honesty

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