Vern was a quota pick – Horn

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Horn, who was part of the World Cup backroom staff and is in Shanghai for the Laureus Sports Awards, shied away from confirming the incident in detail.

It has been reported that coach Russell Domingo was instructed by the Cricket South Africa (CSA) board to include Vernon Philander in place of in-form Kyle Abbott for the semi-final to up the quota of players of colour in the side.

CSA have denied the selection was race-based, but leaks from inside the camp suggest differently, with the coaching staff and senior players furious at the decision and AB de Villiers ready to give up the captaincy.

With players and coaching staff not allowed to comment, Horn is the first team insider to indicate the selection incident took place.

Seconded as part of the backroom staff for the World Cup as a high performance coach and motivator, Horn believed the selection issue aside, the Proteas should still have won the match in Auckland.

“What actually happened was … well … the team was the team that played,” said Horn. “We’re not going into any politics, but it had a role to play. I had to give 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.’

“It is what it is and you take it as it is. It doesn’t matter about how the politics or the ‘quota’ influenced the players. I think I failed a little bit in my job as a motivator or as high performance coach in a way. I believed the Proteas could win the Cup. It wasn’t just a false belief. They had the team to beat Australia and the final was going to be against Australia.”

Horn, who worked with the 2014 World Cup-winning German football team, said the selection issue was not the only thing that went wrong in Auckland. The rain played a huge factor, stopping the team as they were about to kick on.

“We structured our game-plan on a 50-over game. We wanted to keep seven wickets in hand for the last 10 overs and just go in there and hit the ball around on that small park with AB and Faf, and Miller and JP still coming into bat. That is a strong unit to come in with against a team like New Zea-land.

“Then the rain came in and all of a sudden, we have seven wickets in hand, we are exactly where we wanted to be and you don’t have that opportunity to perform. Your tools get taken away from you. Now we are going to play 43 overs. That was the last bit to the summit. Now you have to turn back before you get to the summit. Imagine what it was like for the players. They have done exactly what was asked of them. How disappointing must that have been?

“They were ready, but the mindset had changed again with the rain delay. How many times must you fall and then stand up?

“When Faf and AB went back in, the harmony Faf was in when he was batting was disturbed. Miller batted perfectly. Even when McCallum came in and hit the ball around, that was planned, we expected that. Then the ball wasn’t swinging anymore, the field heavy.

“South Africa were so hungry to win they made a couple of mistakes. But they didn’t go out there to fail. They went out to win. They were utterly committed. Where do you see guys running into each other trying to take a catch? Where do you see them missing run-outs? It was luck. And that’s what makes sport so interesting. Sometimes, you are just f****** lucky”.

The Star

Mike Horn says AB de Villers was instructed to replace Kyle Abbott with Vernon Philander in the World Cup semi-final.

Original source: Vern was a quota pick - Horn

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