So, good on the Democratic Alliance (DA) who has written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee for Sport and Recreation, Ms Beauty Dlulane, requesting that she institute a Parliamentary inquiry into allegations of political interference in the Proteas’ team selection before their disastrous Cricket World Cup semi-final against New Zealand earlier this year.
A parliamentary inquiry is the best intervention to clear the shitty cloud hanging over this matter, which has serious implications for the true independence of national sports teams.
The request follows contrasting reports which can only indicate that someone is lying through their teeth – and we think we know who it is. On the one hand Proteas high performance coach, Mike Horn, says he was required to provide additional support at the World Cup ahead of their semifinal against New Zealand following a change in team selection to meet apparent ‘quota’ requirements.
But the leadership of Cricket South Africa (CSA) says this is not true. CSA CEO Haroon Lorgat, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and his deputy Gert Oosthuizen, have denied having interfered. They seem to suggest the team decided – all by themselves – to drop the in-form Kyle Abbott ahead of Vernon Philander, who had struggled with injury during the tournament.
Lorgat told Eyewitness news there is no truth an reports that he sent a message to the selectors specifically instructing them to alter the make-up of the side from the one that beat Sri Lanka in the quarterfinals.
Interestingly enough, not a single member of the Protea team or management have been made available for interviews since these muddy reports have been aired.
External interference in technical matters of sports team is a serious violation of local and international sports practices. While the leadership of Cricket South Africa (CSA) has denied interference, these allegations should be investigated by Parliament.
Can we trust the CSA’s own finding that there was no interference in the team selection? Certainly not. Or as the DA says in a statement: It is “questionable given that senior figures in its federations are allegedly implicated in the saga”.
We somehow cannot see that the CSA will be able to conduct an independent investigation. Any failure to get to the bottom of this matter risks reversing all the good things cricket SA has done for transformation in the country. Many cricket fans will turn their backs on the national team if there is no transparency.