The national women’s team aside, there doesn’t feel like much good is coming out of South African cricket right at the moment.
Cricket South Africa’s acting chief executive, Pholetsi Moseki, says he understands why there is a pervading sense of pessimism that is cloaking the sport. The Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) project, has shown an unedifying picture of South African cricket that is doing the sport and Cricket SA (CSA) as the organisation overseeing it, enormous reputational harm. But, Moseki believes, it’s not irreparable.
We’ve been through a very difficult time,” Moseki said at an in-studio, virtual event that acted as a launch for the 2021/22 season this week. Similar events ahead of previous seasons have always been happy occasions, filled with optimism and excitement, with sponsors, players, CSA officials and media mixing together, swapping jibes about seasons past and what to expect about the upcoming summer.
This one was different and not only because the Covid pandemic forced everyone to watch it through a screen. Cricket hasn’t felt this detached from South Africa in the post-isolation years. Ask anyone about the sport right now and the replies range from despair to anger. “The last 24 months have probably been the hardest of my own career and my professional life – also personally. You have to admit that personally and for a lot of people we have been through the worst,” Moseki explained. He is right. From the administrative implosion, the threat of a government ban, sponsors (those that have remained) expressing concern, results on the field being iffy and then the SJN, the sport is suffering.
Because the men’s national side is the most watched cricket team in South Africa, anything related to it defines the entire sport. Had results been better, perhaps some of the negativity might have been reduced.
But the Proteas have been inconsistent, not helped by the pandemic, and then, as was the case with the team picked for the T20 World Cup, some curious selection.