SA must resist India 'blackmail'
Cape Town – Are the powerful Indian cricket authorities
trying to dictate Cricket South Africa’s appointment of a new chief executive
in the next few weeks?
Just as ominously, will they actually carry out a rumoured
threat to scupper India’s headline, all-formats tour of our shores next summer?
It may sound a bizarre thought, but the Board of Control for
Cricket India (BCCI) is quite clearly nose-out-of-joint over the possibility
that the South African post – vacant after acting head Jacques Faul quit to
hook up with the Titans domestic franchise – will be filled by former
International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat.
The latter is a compelling frontrunner for the position, not
only given his healthy stint at the helm of the global governing body – a job
he assumed in April 2008 – but because he is a former Howa Bowl player of some
repute, pre-unity, and has also served
as convenor of the national selectors in South Africa.
That really ought to be a bottom line ... but little is
simple in the world cricket fraternity these days and India’s reported
indignation over 52-year-old Lorgat’s claims to the position could have deeper
repercussions than some even imagine.
Lorgat and the BCCI are uneasy bedfellows: during the Port
Elizabeth-born Lorgat’s influential ICC stint, there there was significant
squabbling between the two and his firm stance on global acceptance of the
Decision Review System (DRS) in international cricket – India remain stubbornly
opposed to its intended blanket presence – was a particular flashpoint.
Norman Arendse, CSA’s lead independent director, admitted to
cricket-specialist website www.espncricinfo.com
on Tuesday that they “had heard rumours that the tour was in jeopardy if Lorgat
He added: “They (BCCI) conveyed to us, with a fair amount of
detail, why they would be opposed to his appointment.”
As things stand, India, currently 2-0 to the good in a
four-Test home series against Australia, are scheduled to visit these shores
from November to January (thus including the peak, Festive Season holiday
period) in a programme encompassing three Tests, seven one-day internationals
and two Twenty20 internationals.
There have been some moves afoot, encouraged by the South
African authorities, to expand the Test portion to four.
Irony is hardly in short supply over the present, apparent
impasse: traditionally, South Africa and India have been staunch allies in the period
since our country’s restoration to the international arena in 1991, when Clive
Rice led a poignant, isolation-ending South African ODI squad to India.
In the 1992/93 season, a reciprocal visit, including maiden
Tests between the countries, was arranged in South Africa and labelled the
Strong synergies have continued much more recently -- in
2009, CSA agreed at short notice to act as substitute host for the second
annual edition of the massively lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) T20
tournament, after terrorism fears linked to the general election in that
South Africa, which is favourable terrain in time-zone terms
for Indian cricket needs, has also staged the Champions League T20 event most
commonly held in India.
India are popular attractions wherever they tour, given the
phenomenal television deals and audiences linked to such trips, and CSA will be
licking their lips, no doubt, about the intended long stay on our shores in
2013/14 when it is also likely that veteran master batsman Sachin Tendulkar
will experience his final Test series in South Africa if he has not quit in the
So some deft diplomacy may be required to safeguard the
But at the same time, CSA have every right to determinedly
pursue their “Plan A” in terms of lining up fitting candidates – Lorgat, with
his strong CV, presumably very much included -- for the chief executive’s
Yes, things may get prickly with the BCCI as a consequence.
But is it just possible that this issue also becomes some
kind of last straw in terms of the rest of the cricket world’s tolerance over
the BCCI wielding an absurd amount of power and being the “problem child” of
Here’s hoping there’s some hot air at play over Lorgat, and
that the BCCI aren’t genuinely digging in their heels over a distant, foreign administrative
*Follow our chief
writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing