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Ken Borland



The crude & immoral reasons behind the Lorgat witch-hunt 0

Posted on November 24, 2017 by Ken

 

And so, finally, we know why the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have been so keen to sideline Haroon Lorgat, and why English and Australian administrators sided with them in agreeing to a witch-hunt that would keep the former International Cricket Council CEO sidelined while those three countries stage a hostile takeover of the game.

 If you’re going to stage a coup that hands almost complete power in cricket to the three greedy pigs of India, England and Australia, using the flimsiest of economic reasons to justify it, then the last person you want in the boardroom is a trained chartered accountant with in-depth knowledge of the ICC and their global events, someone able to see through the efforts to bamboozle with lots of numbers, and able to rally the other nations into rejecting, with the utter contempt it deserves, the crude and immoral proposal to change the ICC’s structure.

While Lorgat’s suspension from ICC activities was ostensibly part of India’s efforts to punish him for not kowtowing to their every whim while he was the global body’s CEO, it has now become clear that the BCCI’s shameful interference in Cricket South Africa affairs was part of a much bigger plan – an evil attempt to seize control of cricket, along with England and Australia. David Becker’s ill-judged letter then provided the perfect ammunition to force Lorgat’s removal from ICC affairs.

While the players – through Fica, their international union – and fans the world over have expressed their dismay at the new low the world’s leading cricket administrators are now proposing, the aptly-named Wally Edwards, the Cricket Australia chairman and one of the three men responsible for drafting the bombshell proposal, expressed his annoyance that anybody has dared to question the bona fides of himself, Narayanaswami Srinivasan of India (the Jabba the Hutt of world cricket) and the odious Giles Clarke of England.

“Traditionally, Cricket Australia does not comment on ICC discussions it is about to have – we talk to other ICC nations across the table rather than via the media. But we were today disappointed to see the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations question whether CA and others have met their fiduciary duties as ICC members,” Edwards harrumphed.

But his feeble protestations cannot hide the fact that three nations are trying to use their current wealth to ensure a monopoly over the game that will only widen the gap between them and the rest of the cricket-playing world; cricket will become like American Football, a game reserved for the few and ignored by the rest of the world.

Which makes it clear that Edwards has not met his fiduciary duties as an ICC director. He and the other two conspirators are proposing something that is patently not in the best interests of the game as a whole, but will rather serve the narrow self-interest of three countries only.

It will take cricket back to the dark days of the Imperial Cricket Conference, where you had to be a member of the British Empire to join and England and Australia both held a veto when it came to voting on anything to do with the game.

It was only in 1993, with the formation of the International Cricket Council, that this stranglehold on the game was broken. One can only hope that when the ICC board meets at the end of this month, the other seven Full Members don’t vote themselves back into slavery again.

And while they are at it, Edwards, Srinivasan and Clarke, a former investment banker, should all be summarily fired as directors and Lorgat should be exonerated of all wrongdoing.

It’s all gone very quiet when it comes to his inquiry, by now the ICC really should have been able to find evidence if there was any unethical behaviour on his part. But then again, the evil triumvirate will have achieved what they set out to do with their spurious allegations if Lorgat is not inside the ICC Board meeting at the end of the month, having already been absent when the restructuring proposal was sprung on the other directors on January 9.

The BCCI have already issued a thinly-veiled threat to boycott ICC events like the World Cup and the World T20 if the Board does not submit to their plan for world domination.

In a statement released on Thursday, the BCCI said it had “authorised the office bearers to enter into agreements with ICC for participating in the ICC events and host ICC events, subject to the proposal being approved in the ICC Board.”

Once India have control of the international cricket schedule, along with England and Australia, there is little doubt that no cricket will be allowed to be played during the IPL, therefore ensuring the newest, least gratifying format of the game takes centre-stage.

Fortunately for cricket fans and the players, there is still hope even if the ICC Board do the unthinkable and sell-out to India, England and Australia.

If the ICC act unconstitutionally, or even if their directors are deemed to have breached the code of conduct and failed in their fiduciary duties to act in the interests of the sport and not their own narrow agendas, then there are stakeholders willing to take the matter all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Perhaps Cricket South Africa should send their independent lead director, Norman Arendse, a fiery, outspoken advocate, to shake things up at the ICC?

The governing body seems to have totally lost sight of the reason for their existence: which is to grow the game, not take it back 100 years.

And the point of the game is fair competition: the idea that India, England and Australia should be exempt from any possible Test relegation is laughable and goes against the very principles of fair play. The last five years suggest all three countries are being incredibly arrogant to presume they will remain strong on the playing field ad infinitum.

But then again the smugness currently coming out of England at their own cleverness in finding a devious way of returning to the top table of world cricket (never mind how shocking the on-field performance has been recently), bugger the rest of the world, suggests fair play is no longer the defining characteristic of cricket.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2014-01-23-cricket-the-mystery-of-the-lorgat-witch-hunt-unravelled/#.Wh6eSFWWbIU

The ICC: Growing and promoting cricket and making all the wrong decisions 0

Posted on July 26, 2017 by Ken

 

On their own website, the International Cricket Council state their vision as custodians and administrators of the game.

They say it is to “lead the continued drive towards more competitive, entertaining and meaningful cricket for players and fans. We will grow the sport by creating more opportunities for more people and nations to enjoy it and increase the competitiveness of international cricket at all levels. We will promote cricket by delivering exciting and engaging global events, attracting new and diverse fans and building long-term successful commercial partnerships. And finally, we will continue to make considerable efforts to protect the integrity of the sport.”

It’s all good and well that that is their vision, but unfortunately the ICC have a notorious history of almost inevitably making the wrong decision when it comes to the good of cricket.

The citing and subsequent suspension of Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada for the second Test against England, which started in Nottingham on Friday, is a case in point.

Yes, Rabada was a naughty boy for swearing on the field. Thank heavens the ICC are stamping down on such behaviour that clearly poses a major threat to the game. I look forward to the day when they have undercover agents patrolling the stands, banning spectators who swear. I am sure, too, that the ICC will be putting pressure on their beloved broadcast partners to ensure they do not show movies with any of that vile language on their channels. Standards are standards after all.

Rabada was not suspended for swearing per se, of course, but rather because the one demerit point he was given took him to the threshold of four points that brings with it a one-match ban. The majority of those four points came from an incident in January when he shoved Sri Lankan batsman Niroshan Dickwella.

It is important, of course, to ensure decent standards of player behaviour, but there are better remedies than removing a star player from a crucial game in a high-profile series. Cricket is ultimately the loser this week as those watching the Trent Bridge clash are denied the joy of watching a great fast bowler locking horns with some fine batsmen. Rabada versus the combative Ben Stokes is always compelling viewing, and a fast bowler with fire has always been one of the best sights in cricket.

Instead of devaluing their own product, which is in desperate need of proper marketing, why does the ICC not rather fine players for their misdemeanours? I know some people will say the cricketers earn so much they don’t care about paying thousands of Rands in fines, but my experience of contract negotiations and the general behaviour of players shows they care just as much about money as the rest of us do.

The ICC have far more important things to worry about than a swear word uttered in the heat of combat.

Justice has been swift in Rabada’s case, but when are the ICC going to put in place a proper structure and context for international cricket? Their incompetence in this regard is putting their premier product – Test cricket – at risk. They have put their heads together innumerable times to discuss this issue and yet they have still come up with nothing. It’s enough to make a puritan want to swear.

In England, at this time of year, the sun stays up right into what we (except for those living in Cape Town, which is part of Europe anyway) would consider night – at 8pm it is still quite bright enough to play cricket. But in the first Test at Lord’s, those in the paying seats and those watching in their lounges did not see the prescribed 90 overs of play on any of the four days of play.

I get a little tired of some of the obsession about over-rates, because, if it’s a gripping contest, nobody cares if a team is bowling 12 overs per hour or 14. But if the conditions allow it, then play should continue for as long as necessary to get the prescribed overs in.

What brought the game of cricket more into disrepute – Rabada’s outburst or the actions of the match officials in Durban in 2016 when a Test against New Zealand was abandoned in bright sunshine with both teams keen to play?

The ICC, in their ivory tower, are firmly in the corner of their officials even when they are ensuring there is no cricket.

SA rugby needs decency more than anything else 0

Posted on January 12, 2017 by Ken

 

In terms of rugby, the New Year is all about finding answers to the question “What is wrong with South African rugby?”, but two incidents in the last month show that, perhaps more than anything else, some of our players and administrators have to ditch their self-serving attitudes and get back to the old values of the game that were rooted in common decency and humility.

The recent actions of the Western Province Rugby Football Union and current Springbok player Johan Goosen suggest the problems are more about individuals being rotten to the core rather than structural issues.

Let’s start with Goosen and I’m not going to say anything more about his on-field performance than my feeling he has flattered to deceive, although the fact that he never had a start at flyhalf is a mitigating factor.

But his tawdry actions in trying to get out of a lucrative contract with Racing Metro, that he only signed a few months ago and that netted him €500 000 a year until 2020, indicate this is a man of scant integrity and someone who clearly does not put team ahead of self.

A couple of weeks ago Goosen announced his retirement from rugby at the age of just 24, following one of his more injury-free years and his return to international rugby, saying he was going to become commercial director of a Free State based agricultural company.

Of course no one is really going to believe that and his name has since appeared on a Cheetahs training squad list and it has since been said that Goosen is ultimately going to Gloucester, once Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad becomes the English club’s majority shareholder.

With flagrant disregard for any ethical considerations, Goosen has taken advantage of a loophole in French labour law which makes all fixed-term rugby contracts temporary. Hence a player can be released from his contract without penalty if he finds fulltime employment – ostensibly Goosen’s dubious “commercial director” job.

The actions of Western Province rugby are just as cynical and what little faith their loyal supporters had in their administrators must now have almost totally dissipated.

They had applied for liquidation of the business arm of WP Rugby and then, just a day after that was granted by the Cape High Court, the Western Province Rugby Football Union announced that the insolvent company had been bought by one of their other companies.

Having put Western Province rugby into financial strife, the likes of president Thelo Wakefield and CEO Paul Zacks are glibly trying to slip through a loophole in thoroughly dishonourable fashion to evade their creditors, most notably with sponsorship company Aerios.

And these are the calibre of administrators that have been put in charge of one of the most legendary brands in rugby?!

Goosen has surely played his last game in the Green and Gold because people of such deviousness really should not be representing our country. He should also not be allowed to play Super Rugby and the Springbok coach must ensure his players will make the nation proud, not embarrass us on an international stage; the good of the game must come before the avaricious accumulation of individual wealth.

Wakefield must also surely fall on his sword. This is not some village rugby team he is mishandling, but one of the proudest rugby legacies in the world, whose fans should be feeling deeply humiliated.

High time at Loftus as the Bulls rapidly evolve 0

Posted on October 14, 2015 by Ken

 

Just four months ago, the Blue Bulls Rugby Union was in a sorry state with Frans Ludeke about to be axed as coach, the SuperRugby side ending a miserable campaign with a humiliating loss at home to the Cheetahs, and the players, management and administrators all pulling in different directions.

The atmosphere at Loftus Versfeld was so bad and so stuck in its ways that I called them dinosaurs in this same column.

But since then, there has been rapid evolution and their fortunes have soared with new coach Nollis Marais taking them to a home semi-final in the Currie Cup, playing a fresh, invigorating brand of rugby that has brought the crowds back to Loftus Versfeld, and giving much of the young talent that was being unused and growing frustrated the chance to shine.

Marais has already received his reward in that he has been confirmed as the SuperRugby coach and he has been given a four-year contract, an incredible sign of faith from a Bulls board that has never been known for its willingness to take a chance.

But CEO Barend van Graan said the sight of families returning in droves to Loftus Versfeld made it an easy decision.

“We can see how the tide has turned the last few weeks and attendances have been double what they were compared to last year, nearly the same as for SuperRugby games. Not many applicants reached the standards we require and it was not a difficult decision, Nollis had the inside track because of what has happened in the Currie Cup.

“Our expectations are high, if not I’m sure we would have only given him a one or two-year contract. But we have a lot of confidence in Nollis and he now has the opportunity to build for the next four years. He’s already brought through a number of young, excellent players,” Van Graan said.

While Marais has thoroughly updated the Bulls’ style of play, credit must also go to Van Graan and his board for realising that they need to adapt as well. The CEO said the BBRU would need to adjust their strategies.

“There are decreasing White numbers in our area, the whole demographic of Pretoria is changing dramatically. There are eight PSL teams in Gauteng, plus one each in North-West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, so this is a soccer region. The average crowd for a PSL game is 5000.

“Twenty-eight percent of the Blue Bulls’ support comes from the Eastern Cape and 98% of that is Black, most of whom don’t have pay-TV at home. So we have to revise our strategy and penetrate new markets. In the last five years, we have seen a decline of more than 70% on the number of tickets sold at the ground. People just buy tickets on the internet now and they’re no longer buying season tickets,” Van Graan pointed out.

The Bulls have earned a reputation for being aggressive recruiters of junior players, but their showcase teams have also suffered due to a revolving door of players leaving or losing their contracts.

“Since 2011, we have lost 57 players, a lot of them to the Euro, Yen and British Pound. But things are cyclical in a team sport, you have to let guys go, but perhaps we released too many players, in hindsight. The last six or seven SA U21 captains have come from here, but our Currie Cup side will be even younger next year so we need to be smart in our recruiting. We need to fast-track talent, but only five percent of the schools in our region play rugby,” Van Graan said.

Marais has given the Bulls a new lease of life on the field and credit should also be given to Van Graan and the board for identifying the new direction the BBRU has to take. If they continue along this path, there’s no reason why the Bulls shouldn’t in time become the most powerful union in the country again.

 

 

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