Antoinette Muller

Hey, don't you insult SA!

2013-09-27 10:47
Sport24 columnist Antoinette Muller (File)
By Sunday evening, cricket fans of South Africa and around the world should know what fate has befallen them. By then, the BCCI would have had their AGM and, hopefully, will  have decided exactly what they want or don’t want to do about their tour to South Africa.

That tour which was originally scheduled to included three Test matches and a bumper edition of shorter format stuff. If the tour happens at all, it will be presented as a far more compact version, most likely to include two Tests and three ODIs, the exact number of games required by the ICC to consider it a full tour. But two Tests isn’t even worthy of being called a series.

It’s old news that South Africa have received the short end of the stick for the amount of cricket they will play in the next few years.  It has been lopsided for a while and since 2011, South Africa have only played 20 Tests with just Zimbabwe and Bangladesh playing fewer. Think about that for a second. Sri Lanka, West Indies and New Zealand have all played more Test cricket than South Africa.

This happening  during a time when the Proteas had not been beaten away from home in 2006. Isn’t being the best about beating the best?

Stuart Broad of England certainly thinks so and he has recently said as much. South Africa gave England a good spanking last year but the two teams will have to wait until 2015 before they get to meet again. By then, some of the greats in both sides might have hung up their spikes already.

One of the reasons often given for the reason that South Africa sucking on the hind teat of scheduling is that  South Africa aren’t “marketable” enough. Money earned from TV broadcasting deals is massive. So, a side’s general appeal - both to other countries who play them and want to watch them - matters. Let’s assume that it is the case for the South African public and that most of them are more interested in rugby and soccer and can’t watch the cricket anyway because it’s on Pay-TV, what then of the rest of the world?

Dale Steyn is arguably the best bowler of his generation. Hashim Amla is a brilliant batsman. Jacques Kallis is still going at nearly full steam. JP Duminy’s back from injury with a bang. Vernon Philander can probably bowl doing the moon walk and still take wickets at will.

That’s not even half the team. South Africa are marketable, alright. They are marketable to a greater spectrum of cricket fans who will watch one team over another because well, that team is good. Why on earth broadcasters who purchase rights for screening it across the world do not seem to notice that is discombobulating. 

Cricket is a global game and yes, selling broadcast rights and getting cricket to compete with some like say, the Premier League in England isn’t exactly easy. However, soccer games are played in blocks of two hours over the weekend. A Test match lasts five days, unless South Africa are playing - in which case it takes just three days and will be over by the time the football is on anyway.

Yes, South Africa weren’t the best when the original FTP was drafted, but that marketing execs at TV channels around the world haven’t caught up to the fact that cricket is a global game and will be watched by global fans no matter who is playing is a great shame.

There is a clear need for intervention from the powers that be. India managed to get away with not singing the Future Tours Programme at all, meaning they can kind of do what they like with it. The programme is planned way too far in advance and while there is room for manoeuvring, it generally centres around the fixtures already plugged into the programme.

As of July 2013 to the Test Championship due to take place in 2017, England and Australia would have played 40 Tests each. Out of those 40, 15 of them would have been against each other. South Africa would have played 22 Tests. That's fewer than India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. It is so blatantly apparent that there needs to be a rethink from the powers that be at the ICC.

That the best side in Test cricket will be spending their summer playing just two Tests, if they even play Tests at all, and the rest of their time fighting for a miniscule slice of pie is an insult not only to the fans who love the game, but also to the players themselves. 

Antoinette Muller is a freelance writer who writes mainly about soccer and cricket for The Daily Maverick or anybody else who will have her...

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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