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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Columns > Peter Roebuck

SA cricket needs an overhaul

March 06, 2003

Herschelle Gibbs is my nomination to captain South Africa. Admittedly, Gibbs is a bit of a card, but so was Ricky Ponting and that did not stop the Australians from appointing him. As the bard noted in Henry IV Part 1, youthful rapscallions are quite capable of maturing into fine leaders. Gibbs has had his fun and been caught with his finger in the pie, but he is lively and was his team's best and most responsible player in the recent campaign. On current form he is this country's only world class cricketer. Others can point to impressive figures but Gibbs stood almost alone when it mattered. South Africa must cast aside its conservatism. Bold steps are needed.

Herschelle GibbsOf course, it cannot stop with a change of captain. Radical thinking is needed across the board, a sweeping away of aging paleskins feigning enlightenment and old war-horses still fighting the battle for liberation. A plague on both their houses. Clearly the indaba held last year in Pretoria was a disaster. From my experience in newspapers and elsewhere, the people attending these meetings are the problem not the solution, a point that has not so far appeared on any of their agendas.

Percy Sonn must stand aside as president of his country's cricket. After his excesses in Paarl, the only honourable course is to resign. Sonn was also partly to blame for the way Jacques Rudolph was treated in Australia as politicals replaced humanitarian considerations. Graeme Pollock was the other culprit because he was responsible for Rudolph's omission from the first Test. Rudolph and Justin Ontong deserved better from the adults around them.

Gerald Majola must retract his condemnation of Errol Stewart. Doubtless, his words placated an elite deaf to the pleas of the hungry masses, but they sounded ill coming from the mouth of a compassionate man. He is, though, the right man for the position and can guide South African cricket through these challenges.

Shaun Pollock cannot survive as captain. Actually, he had a reasonable campaign but has not united his men into a single fighting force. South African cricketers must stop complaining about rain, Duckworth- Lewis, luck, injuries, the press and all the other excuses used to distract attention from a poor performance. They did not beat any of the ranked sides. Thanks to Brian Lara, the West Indians were too strong. Stephen Fleming and his Kiwis overpowered the hosts at The Wanderers and it was touch and go against the sporting Sri Lankans. Pollock's team did not take its chances. The West Indians were desperately unlucky. South Africa has few grounds for complain.

South Africa bowled poorly, dropped catches and faltered in the middle of the innings. Senior players let the team down, especially Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher, who have not risen above their times. Boucher needs to rediscover the part of his character that persuaded Gibbs to tell the truth to the King Commission. Kallis is also a fine man who has lost his way. Allan Donald could not find his rhythm. By announcing his retirement before the competition he put pressure upon himself. None of the retirees survived the first round. Cricket is about as sentimental as rice pudding.

The selectors must be called to account. Omar Henry must be sacked and the rest can go with him. Their failure to defy the politicians condemns them. Cricketers cannot be microwaved, a point understood by those magnificent women and coaches working in the development areas but missed by the intelligentsia in their air-conditioned offices. Donald should have played in every match or not at all. Zondeki will get his chance in England and is one of many bright prospects -- most of the rest can be found in the Cape or around Pretoria. Choosing two spinners in the squad was ridiculous and exposed the batting and pace bowling. Smith, Elworthy and Rudolph should have been included. Undue faith has been shown in my friend Boeta Dippenaar.

South Africa must stop fretting about its elimination and start thinking ahead. My team for the next Test is Gibs (captain), Kirsten(vice-captain), Smith, Rudolph, Mckenzie, Van Jaarsfeld (Martin, not Vaughan), Pollock, Tswelikele, Crookes, Ntini and Zondeki, with Ontong as 12th man and everyone praying that Ngam can resume bowling.Vincent van der Bijl is my chairman of selectors and Ewie Cronje must manage the team. Majola retains his position and takes charge properly, more responsibility is given to Gerald de kock and John Blair is replaced as treasurer.

Some might regard these changes as contentious but a leap of imagination is needed to bring South African cricket back to life.

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Number of User Comments: 3

Sub: Great Article

Finally a South African who stops making excuses and faces the facts! I once thought Gibbs should be banned for life, but now I agree ...

Posted by KA

Sub: Peter Roebuck

Peter has this tendency to make sweeping 'blanket statements' with a lot of confidence. These statements, however, are sometimes misplaced. For example, he had written ...

Posted by Gautom Dey

Sub: Common Proteas

South Africa is really a great team. They should improve their chasing skill. They depend too much on Gibbs and Klusener. Victory comes only when ...

Posted by Meena


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