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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Damned if they do, damned if they don’t … CSA caught in no-man’s land in Dane van Niekerk saga

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Ongama Gcwabe

Gqberha – A massive uproar broke out when star all-rounder Dane van Niekerk missed out on a home Cup due to failing a fitness test.

On Tuesday, Cricket South Africa announced the squad for the upcoming Women’s T20I Cup and one of the biggest names in women’s cricket was nowhere to be found.

Big names in the cricketing world joined in on the discussion and let the world know of their opinions on Van Niekerk’s exclusion.

Van Niekerk took to social media to reveal just how devastated she is for missing out.

According to reports, it is understood that Marizanne Kapp, Dane’s wife, subsequently withdrew from South Africa’s Tri-Series final against India scheduled on Thursday.

It is important to note the challenges CSA might have had to face if the rules were suddenly put aside for Van Niekerk when CSA did not overlook the very same rules when Proteas seamer Sisanda Magala was left-out.

The dark history of this country has left many scarred. Those scars and traumas might have resulted in a different kind of uproar had CSA bent the rules for Van Niekerk. It might have been an uproar deeply rooted in race and favouritism.

Are you in a position of power in South Africa? You better be conscious of the people you’re leading. Or risk being taken apart by a country on a long journey to rehabilitation from the traumas of its own past.

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Ask former Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, who overlooked local coaches of colour who were qualified and experienced, but instead chose to hire former teammate, Mark Boucher, who had no qualifications for the job.

So, did the selection panel have much of a choice?

Essentially, Cricket South Africa seem to have made a calculated decision. Perhaps they could foresee that there was no avoiding an uproar and decided to stick to the script; “2km = 9’30”.

Domestically, the likes of Siyabonga Mahima (The Rocks) and Jonathan Vandiar (Northern Cape Heat) haven’t played a single game this season and it is understood that they too have had difficulties passing the fitness test. The two players are at a risk of losing their contracts as their teams might see them as liabilities on one-year-long paid leave.

As franchise teams, will the Rocks and the Northern Cape Heat be doing themselves justice by renewing their contracts? Absolutely not. Because sport is a business and SA domestic cricket has a promotion-relegation system that franchise teams need to consider.

Harsh? Yes, but that’s just the reality of cricket in South Africa.

From the player’s perspective, it would do them a world of good should the teams give them a longer run or if Cricket South Africa modifies these rules to allow the ‘big-boned’ (or plus-sized) players to showcase their skills.

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