Quota selection saga ‘mischievous’

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Cricket SA again sought to draw a line under the subject which has refused to go away following South Africa’s dramatic defeat in Auckland.

A late night release on Saturday, containing nine bullet points, exonerates chief executive Haroon Lorgat from claims that he ‘interfered’ with the selection of the side that started the match at Eden Park.

While Cricket SA say they’ll make no further comment on the matter, there continues to be whispers that the side was changed from the one originally picked – with Vernon Philander chosen over the in-form Kyle Abbott in order to satisfy a quota policy.

In its late night release, Cricket SA described “rigorous debates” about selection and that Andrew Hudson – the selection convener – and coach Russell Domingo had “consulted Lorgat, who had impressed upon them the need to properly consider the best XI bearing in mind the transformation guidelines.”

Those guidelines emphasise that in choosing a starting side, the selectors must include at least four ‘players of colour.’ In the quarter-final South Africa had picked Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and Imran Tahir, with Philander absent due to injury and Abbott taking his place.

Abbott played four matches in the tournament and was one of the South African squad’s form players, which made his axing for the semi-final such a surprise and which has added fuel to allegations of ‘interference.’

The internal probe, conducted by three independent directors of Cricket SA’s Board – Vusi Pikoli, Louis von Zeuner and Iqbal Khan – saw interviews conducted with Domingo, Hudson and Lorgat. That trio confirmed to the panel that they had not been instructed by anyone – including the Sports Minister or any CSA Board member – to change the side.

Further Hudson and Domingo emphasised their understanding of Cricket SA’s selection guidelines specifically as they relate to transformation.

On Saturday, Mike Horn, who worked with the squad as a high performance consultant sought to distance himself from the controversy by saying that remarks he made last week, which strongly implied that there had been interference in the selecting of the side, were taken out of context. In a letter to Cricket SA, Horn apologised for his remarks adding that it was not his intention to “hurt the feelings of the management team and the players.”

In an interview with Independent Newspapers conducted at the Laureas Awards in Shanghai last week, Horn said he’d had “a talk to the guys after the team was selected. A little bit of energy was taken away from the quarter-finals, where the right team played. My job was to say, ‘Listen guys. Now we have got to give just a little bit more than what we gave before. We have got to fill gaps. We have to make a difference with less, but give more.’”

Cricket SA’s president, Chris Nenzani expressed his satisfaction with the work done by the internal probe.

“Based on the above, and also noting Mike Horn’s clarifications contained in his letter of apology, it is clear that the allegations made in various media are unfounded and mischievous. The CSA Board are duly satisfied with the findings of the review panel and the performances of the selection panel, the coach and chief executive,” said Nenzani.

Meanwhile yesterday, the official opposition in Parliament, the Democratic Alliance, called on the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee for Sport and Recreation, Beauty Dlulane, to launch a Parliamentary inquest into the affair.

“CSA's own finding that there was no interference in the team selection is questionable given that senior figures in its federation are allegedly implicated in the saga. This brings into question the genuine independence of the CSA’s investigation,” the DA said in a statement. - The Star

Cricket SA president Chris Nenzani expressed his satisfaction with the work done by the internal probe over the World Cup semi-final selection.

Original source: Quota selection saga ‘mischievous’

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