Cricket

‘Forgotten’ SA: Lorgat seeks world events

2017-09-05 12:20
Haroon Lorgat (Gallo)

Cape Town - Five World Cups, two (and possibly three) Champions Trophies, six World Twenty20 tournaments.

That is how many major International Cricket Council global events will have bypassed South Africa by the time the latest official schedule of tournaments, to 2023, has run its course.

But the phenomenon has not gone unnoticed by Cricket South Africa, which is in the process of significantly upgrading stadiums both large and more “backwater”, and chief executive Haroon Lorgat has assured Sport24 in an interview that pitching will be spirited for the new ICC cycle.

The country last hosted a major event in 2009 - the Champions Trophy - to add to one each of the World Cup (2003) and World T20 (the inaugural one in 2007).

We have been in the wilderness since, a period of some eight years, and unless there is an unexpected new vacancy in the period to 2023, the gap will stretch to a minimum of 14 years by that “clearing of the decks”, as it were.

Of the trio of glamour jamborees, the Champions Trophy remains reasonably imperilled despite its resilient popularity and pleasingly short, strength-versus-strength format; the latest edition was held in England and Wales earlier this year and a 2021 follow-up is only tentatively pencilled in for India.

But the other two tournaments are cast in altogether firmer stone, with India and the United Kingdom, especially, either having already been heavily favoured for hosting of quite recently-completed tournaments or for ones in the immediate pipeline.

Despite having staged both of the last two Champions Trophies in succession, for example, England and Wales also have landed rights to the next World Cup (2019), whilst India get the one beyond in 2023 – even if the up-in-the-air Champs Trophy comes around for them just two years earlier.

Australia, meanwhile, get the next World T20 in 2020 (they were the headline hosts of the last World Cup in 2015) after some rumours that a 2018 version of the T20 event might be squeezed in - with SA considered strongly to the fore for nabbing it - came to nothing.

But the controversial, short-lived “big three” financial clout-related monopoly of the ICC (the boards of India, England and Australia) which came into being around 2014 but was effectively disbanded earlier this year, should mean a stronger foothold again for a country like South Africa in campaigning for prestigious tournaments in the next cycle.

Lorgat confirmed that they envisaged positive spinoffs, in that quest, from their conscious, multimillion-rand infrastructure upgrading drive at present, timed partly with the much-touted, six-week T20 Global League from November in mind.

“Of course (it helps) ... look, it gives us more options in hosting terms, right around the country; some of our traditional bigger venues were pretty much compliant anyway.

“If you were hosting a Champions Trophy or World Cup you need four or five venues; Champs Trophy even fewer (only Edgbaston, The Oval and Sophia Gardens were used for the last one - Sport24), so we were already fine for that.

“For World Cup, maybe we would have had to upgrade the back end of our intended list of venues -- with this having been undertaken now, it takes us to a new level.

“So will we be pitching for major events? Absolutely. We expressed our disappointment previously when the latest cycle of ICC events through to 2023 were basically kept among certain countries.

“I don’t believe this will be repeated in the next cycle and we have certainly indicated that we desire hosting the World Cup (again).”

Lorgat said improvements to stadiums had been earmarked for some time.

“The process probably got speeded up a little bit because of the Global League, but it was in our plans from a CSA perspective anyway to upgrade - we could have done a five-year plan or something, but with the League coming along we said ‘right, let’s do it’ (more swiftly).

“We are a long way down the track already. Somewhere like in Paarl (Boland Park) there has already been noticeable improvement; we have spent large sums already before the new season even kicks off (fully).

“It was always in our minds to revamp, refurb our stadiums; we hadn’t invested on that front in a long time.

“The last significant time anything happened was in advance of World Cup 2003; the odd coat of paint has occurred since, but nothing substantial.

“Port Elizabeth (St George’s Park) for example gets new floodlights, so we can play international day/night cricket there ... we never rostered matches there before on that basis; they were always daytime games.

“Even Boland Park had a lights issue; we had been behind the curve in certain areas, at certain venues and that (is changing).”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    csa  |  icc  |  haroon lorgat  |  cricket
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