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Ken Borland



CSA & anti-corruption unit have been methodical & efficient 0

Posted on December 26, 2016 by Ken

 

Cricket South Africa and the chairman of their anti-corruption unit, former Judge President Bernard Ngoepe, need to be congratulated for the methodical and efficient manner in which they have dealt with the attempts to fix matches during last season’s T20 competition, resulting this week in Alviro Petersen joining ringleader Gulam Bodi and Jean Symes, Pumelela Matshikwe, Ethy Mbhalati and Thami Tsolekile as players who have received bans.

Petersen accepted a ban of two years this week and his was the most complex of the cases, the former Proteas batsman being both whistleblower and conspirator, both helpful and obstructive to the investigators.

That half-a-dozen players have now successfully been prosecuted – with just one more high-profile name believed to be on the radar – points to the systematic, detailed work of Ngoepe’s anti-corruption unit. There had been pressure on them early on in the investigations to speed up the process and some of the guilty were also politically-sensitive figures, but they ensured they followed due process every step of the way, even if it meant there was no news for a baying public for periods of time.

The acquittal of former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns on matchfixing charges last November really upped the ante in terms of the evidence required by cricket administrators looking to pursue successful prosecutions of those involved in corruption and CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat and Ngoepe and his staff have handled the latest South African case with the delicacy and precision of a surgeon.

While Petersen claims he raised the alarm about the nefarious activities Bodi was putting into play, the investigators always had questions about the 36-year-old’s continued involvement in the scheme. Did he pull out because he wasn’t going to get enough money out of the scam?

Petersen was implicated by the evidence of his co-accused as well as his actions in destroying key evidence, believed to be his cellphone records, and has basically been found guilty of that and of not immediately reporting the suspicious activities. Perhaps by trying to be the hero and bypassing the rules which all cricketers should know, he has probably ended his professional career.

It is fair to say Petersen is not well-liked by most of his team-mates, I have heard him referred to as “Lord Voldemort”, and, probably due to a really tough upbringing in the Port Elizabeth township of Gelvandale, he is a bristly, difficult character, always on the defensive.

Coming from a really poor background, perhaps the drive to make “easy” money was too strong; or perhaps his desire to be the hero and singlehandedly destroy Bodi’s matchfixing ring turned into hubris.

Perhaps he is guilty of merely showing poor judgement, something all of us suffer from at times, but he has paid a terrible price in his name being tarnished and losing two of his twilight years as a player, particularly in English county cricket, where he has been a prolific and highly-valued run-scorer for Lancashire.

But that’s the penalty under a system that rightly operates under a zero tolerance principle and no professional cricketer can claim that they are uneducated about the anti-corruption measures.

Petersen’s punishment is par for the course for what he did and thankfully he has accepted it without the need for protracted hearings and appeals. This frees up the anti-corruption unit to now zoom in on a former international pace bowler with especially strong political connections.

Perhaps they have left the toughest case to last.

CSA slammed out the park too often 0

Posted on November 22, 2016 by Ken

 

If Cricket South Africa were a bowler, they would be the type that gives you an over comprising three great deliveries, beating the bat a couple of times and maybe bowling the batsman, and three rank full tosses that are hammered out of the park, and are no-balls just to make matters worse!

There are so many good things going on in CSA, so many people within that organisation who have a deep love for the game and are faithful servants of it, often at considerable cost to themselves. While those good balls are being bowled, it is easy to believe that everything in South African cricket is hunky dory and the future is bright.

Like when you go to the Centre of Excellence and National Academy in Pretoria. This is a superb facility where national teams can prepare with the latest technology at their fingertips.

The gadgets have recently been improved with the world’s most advanced batting simulator – the PitchVision Batting Studio – now installed. The high-tech bowling machine and smart lane equipped with sensors takes net batting to the next level. The simulator features a moveable bowling machine that can bowl over or around the wicket, videos of bowlers, shot-tracking, field setting and tracking of runs scored. The system also records technique for video analysis.

The batsman can set up any match scenario and bat with the realistic pressures of finding the gaps and trying to chase down a score at the death.

The technology even showed that I was planting my front leg when batting, but then a good coach could probably have pointed that out anyway. And, as I told coaches Shukri Conrad and Vincent Barnes, nobody has trapped me lbw for a long time! (Now I’m just tempting fate!)

There are lots of other good news stories around CSA at the moment, such as the thawing of relations with India. According to Haroon Lorgat, the CSA chief executive, the BCCI are keen on the idea of South Africa and India developing an icon series like the Ashes. The Proteas will be playing four Tests in India this year and the next tour to South Africa is not going to be the thoroughly inadequate shortened series which was foisted upon CSA in December 2013.

Sadly, however, there are still people in CSA who seem more intent on furthering their own agendas than the good of the game.

Despite CSA continuing to swear blind that there was nothing untoward in the selection of the team for the World Cup semi-final, that merit is the only criterion for the Proteas (except when the call is 50/50), the gathering of the cricket family this week for the CSA Awards (another example of how well they can do things) meant I was given yet more snippets of information that would seem to confirm that the side that took the field at Eden Park was not the one Russell Domingo, AB de Villiers or the selectors initially wanted.

And now, an event as happy and well-organised as the awards banquet has also been marred by the same faceless, cowardly interferers as allegations of the judges’ decisions being changed rear their ugly heads.

Two members of the judging panel confirmed to me that one of the franchise award-winners had been changed – that when they left their selection meeting, they were under the impression that a different player had won.

The last thing I want to do is cast aspersions on the ability and class of Robin Peterson (poor Vernon Philander was shamefully treated by the World Cup fiasco), whom I rate highly and believe should be in the Test squad ahead of Aaron Phangiso, but apparently he was the third-choice for the Momentum One-Day Cup Player of the Season, behind Dean Elgar and Andrew Puttick.

So the last week has pretty much summed up CSA’s performance in general: leading the field in many ways, like the centre of excellence in Pretoria, enjoying the support of an ever-growing list of sponsors and putting on superb events, but then also shooting themselves in the foot through dishonesty and backroom dealings. It felt like a family gathering this week, even if the family is dysfunctional at times, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some members who really would be better suited to Fifa than cricket administration.

Is everyone there on merit? One wonders … 0

Posted on November 17, 2016 by Ken

 

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has assured their stakeholders that selection for the national team will only be on merit and this week signed a new transformation agreement with Sascoc and the Department of Sports and Recreation in which they are apparently the only sporting code that has not agreed to quotas at the highest level.

CSA’s attitude is that the system must provide the national team with black players on merit, which is why they are aggressively pursuing quotas at domestic level.

It is also believed that CSA have met with the Proteas and have clarified with them that there was no interference in selection at the World Cup and that there won’t be targets in future.

But the squads announced for the tour of Bangladesh in July do make one wonder.

Reeza Hendricks and Aaron Phangiso have been picked for the Test squad, while Kagiso Rabada has leapfrogged Kyle Abbott in the fast-bowling pecking order.

I have the utmost respect as cricketers for them, but logic suggests the selectors were not looking at purely on-field performance in making these decisions.

Hendricks is undoubtedly a bright talent and I fully support him being involved in the limited-overs squads. But the figures show that Hendricks is not yet ready to be a Test opener. His first-class franchise batting average is just 34.55 with three centuries in 20 matches. Last season he averaged just 31.76, half what Highveld Lions opener Stephen Cook managed.

Cook has scored 10 centuries in the last two seasons, while Cobras opener Andrew Puttick has averaged 49.27 and 40.23 in the last two Sunfoil Series season. The fact that these two prolific batsman can’t make the side when an opening batsman is required and yet someone whose performances in the same competition are far inferior only adds fuel to the fire that is raging around selection for the national team.

The cynic in me believes that Phangiso’s selection for the Test squad is to make up for the appalling manner in which he was treated at the World Cup that saw him not play a single game.

Both Phangiso and Highveld Lions coach Geoff Toyana have gone on record as saying that the 31-year-old still needs a lot of work in the longer format and five wickets at an average of 67 in the Sunfoil Series shows that is the case.

Convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson said that they wanted a left-arm spinner for the squad and there is a ready-made, experienced, proven option in Robin Peterson.

As far as Rabada goes, I am certain that he will be a great fast bowler for South Africa in all formats, but what has Abbott done wrong?

Lady Luck always has her say when it comes to cricket, but Abbott has been one of the most unfortunate players in the country for a while now.

As a unit, the Proteas have been exceptionally strong in the Test arena, but the pain of the World Cup loss was all too obvious and whether CSA’s clearing-the-air session with the players was enough remains to be seen. They maintain that the only affirmative action when it comes to selection is if there is a 50/50 choice between two players, then the player of colour will get the benefit.

Was Hendricks being preferred to Cook really a 50/50 call? Phangiso over Peterson and Rabada ahead of Abbott?

A Bangladesh tour was never exactly looked forward to and this time the challenges will be even greater on the field. The Proteas will be asked tougher questions than ever before by Bangladesh on their home turf, while questions still swirl around their selection.

 

CSA rise up against BCCI bullies with Lorgat appointment 0

Posted on July 18, 2016 by Ken

 

Cricket South Africa’s appointment of Haroon Lorgat as their new chief executive is a welcome uprising against the bully-boy tactics and undue influence of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The 53-year-old Lorgat, the former chief executive of the International Cricket Council, was announced as the new CEO of CSA on the weekend and is the first permanent appointment in the key role since the disgraced Gerald Majola was suspended (and later sacked) in March 2012 in the wake of the bonus scandal that followed South Africa’s hosting of the Indian Premier League in 2009.

But despite clearly being the best candidate for the job – Lorgat was a highly-respected former player, he was convenor of the national selection panel, he runs his own successful chartered accountancy business, he has cricket administration experience at the highest level – and although various members of the CSA board have been seeking his return for the last couple of years, Lorgat was only appointed on the weekend, three-and-a-half months later than the original April deadline for a new CEO.

That’s because the BCCI made it clear in February that they did not want Lorgat heading up South African cricket. He and the then-president of the BCCI, Narayanaswami Srinivasan, have history of the wrong sort.

The reasons for Srinivasan’s antagonism range from Lorgat’s backing of the Decision Review System, contrary to India’s wishes; his decision to move the 2011 World Cup match between India and England away from Eden Gardens in Kolkata because the stadium wasn’t ready; his refusal to entertain Srinivasan’s push for the ICC to move their headquarters from Dubai to Mumbai; and Lorgat’s backing of the findings of the Lord Woolf Commission, which warned about the unhealthy influence India had on the ICC.

The BCCI’s bully-boy tactics would impress the average corrupt South African cop and any country which has voted against their viewpoint at ICC meetings has suffered the fall-out – losing out on lucrative tours by the Indian team, being denied a place in the Champions League T20 or having their players banned from the IPL.

It was the unseemly wealth of the IPL that eventually caused the BCCI to be exposed as a den of iniquity from within: Srinivasan, who also happens to own the Chennai Super Kings, stood aside as president in June when he could no longer plead ignorance of the corruption and match-fixing within the IPL.

Because the BCCI generate by far the most revenue in global cricket, they have their hands in every pie and even something as noble as the ICC Cricket Committee has been commandeered to suit their vision of a DRS-less world.

The Daily Maverick reported as far back as February that although Lorgat was the favourite to be become permanent CEO, this was unlikely because the BCCI were opposed to his appointment.

But the sidelining of Srinivasan has enabled Cricket South Africa to grow some balls and appoint the best candidate for the position, even though president Chris Nenzani denied on Monday that events in India had had any influence on the process.

That after CSA missed promised deadlines for the appointment in both early April and June.

“When we went to India in February, we spoke to the president of the BCCI [Srinivasan] and he expressed certain concerns about Haroon’s possible appointment. We made clear to him that we would not ignore his concerns, but we would have to act in the best interests of cricket in South Africa.

“There’s no link between what has happened in India and Haroon’s appointment now. They are going through a period of challenges in India, but we can’t afford to get entangled in that and Haroon’s appointment was done in the best way for CSA,” Nenzani said.

Louis von Zeuner, one of the new independent directors on the CSA board and a former deputy CEO of Absa, made it clear that he would not allow outside influences to meddle with what’s best for South African cricket on his watch.

“We take decisions in the interests of South African cricket and we don’t allow influences that don’t follow sound governance,” Von Zeuner said. “There are several stakeholders in South African cricket and we listen to all opinions and then take the opinion that is right for the country.”

Lorgat ran the ICC between 2008 and 2012 with a steely focus on what was best for the game in general and, with the importance of the BCCI in mind, he said on Monday that he would sit down with his Indian detractors and try to find common ground.

“It’s probably right that I don’t speak too much about it, but I was particularly saddened by the inferences that came from India. I never expected to end with such a poor relationship with them. But I will do my level best to understand their concerns and do whatever it takes to mend things. If I need to apologise, I will do so with no hesitation.

“There’s no doubt India is a major player and we must respect India. We don’t want to be out-of-favour with them, but I did what I thought was best for cricket,” Lorgat said.

The incoming CEO, who will take office on August 1 and has signed a three-year contract, also said he was happy with the new composition of the CSA board, saying a change in structure as recommended by the Nicholson Commission was a prerequisite for him to accept the post.

“Many people cajoled me to get involved in South African cricket again but one aspect I wanted was for there to be a new board with a sufficient independent component. I offered my availability once that new board was in place in early February.

“The new board is operating well, from what I’ve seen. We had a 90-minute session on the weekend and I saw the manner in which they operate with contributions from both the independent and non-independent side. I’m a fan of independent involvement because they don’t serve vested interests and I saw that. I’m confident this board will function as a very good corporate board.

“They are very mindful of good corporate governance since being restructured in line with the recommendations of the Nicholson Commission. We must all be conscious of it, but I’m not too concerned with governance because the people on the board will ensure that. I come from that background, it’s second nature for me, I trained in it and it’s how we did things at the ICC,” the chartered accountant said.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-07-23-sa-cricket-all-hail-haroon-lorgat/#.V4zAFvl97IU



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