Cape Town - In the aftermath of Proteas' 2019 Cricket World Cup disaster, former national spinner Pat Symcox has called for radical change at top level management.
ALSO READ: Pat Symcox on why Proteas' World Cup flopped
The Proteas are already home after finishing a lowly seventh on the 10-team World Cup log, winning just three of nine matches.
Speaking exclusively to Sport24 on Thursday, Symcox said the team's demise was no fluke and said "radical changes" were needed to resurrect matters.
Symcox, who played 20 Tests and 80 one-day internationals in the 1990s, said the current Cricket South Africa (CSA) leadership should learn from how the game was administered during that period.
He said there were "FOUR PILLARS" in South African cricket that ensured the game remained strong.
"The first one was the CEO, Ali Bacher. He was an ex-Springbok captain. He understood cricket having played the game for 20 years.
"The second pillar we had was an academy run by Clive Rice and Hylton Ackerman - they were responsible for taking talent that was identified and taking it to the next level. And the reason why that was important was when we first got back into world cricket, one of the problems we all encountered in the first seven, eight years, was that it took time to learn how to play on the subcontinent, how to play in England... to know how to play at that level... the gap between domestic cricket and international cricket was massive.
"And in terms of young guys... we needed to fast-track them. So you need to have a person running that academy... the guys that came through that system were much better off, hardened. Forget that they didn't play domestic cricket, they were really taught the way of cricket...
"The third pillar was Peter Pollock, the convener of selectors. He was an international cricketer. He lives, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket... a student of the game for 50 years. He could identify talent and he understood what it demands to be a selector and understanding how you pick teams. He had lots if experience.
"And then of course there was the fourth pillar, the captain… Kepler (Wessels) and Hansie (Cronje)."
According to Symcox, back then, it was easier for talented youngsters to move quickly through the ranks to the top level.
"If there was a guy in the system that was a young, talented player, somebody would identify him, he would be pulled into the academy. He would be looked after by Ali, Peter would make sure that he gets selected and Kepler or Hansie would be his captain."
With these four pillars in place, it wouldn’t matter so much if the domestic system was weak, Symcox stressed.
"It really shouldn't impact on those four pillars. So, I'm saying let's recreate those four pillars and make sure we put into place those blocks so that we're able to find a young 19-year-old who we know has got a hell of a lot of talent...
"How do we get him to the next level quickly? If you're going to wait for him to come through the system, you're going to have the same scenario as we've got with (Rassie) van der Dussen. I heard Van der Dussen say there's nothing wrong with the domestic system, he's a product of it. Yes, he's right. But he's 30 years old! It's taken him 10 years to become a decent international cricketer. If your domestic system is going to take 10 years to get somebody to be a good batsman at No 5, then you're in trouble. What was he like at 21? He wasn't good enough (then)."
Symcox added his concern that not enough players at domestic level were making names for themselves.
"Whoever is going to replace Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla is already in the system. There's no silver bullet. They're here. But who are they? Are they good enough? No, they're not, because they're not scoring the amount of runs and taking wickets that would already make them stand out head and shoulders above anyone else.
"That's the problem... the production line that produces a player to play at the national level is not good enough."
Calls for top brass to re-apply!
Symcox also questioned the competency of the top brass at Cricket South Africa.
"If you go and look at the governance of Cricket South Africa, if you take a look at who's on the pipeline committee, on the cricket committee, on the board... go and look at who are the cricket representatives... it's glaringly obvious that we have a problem," he said.
Symcox said ex-players, pundits and administrators were often too scared to criticise.
"As an ex-player, the danger always is when you criticise or you pass an analysis, then it is deemed to be coming from a space where you're just being critical. So, what happens is you get the scenario of good people keeping quiet... that's what happens, nothing gets said...
“Nobody in the system can criticise it, no coaches or CEO can... even you in the media... you are so scared to open your mouths and say something because you will be judged as being either against quotas or you’re sensationalising it. So, nobody wants to say anything in case they get ostracised."
Symcox said he didn't expect much to change in the near future.
"I don't hold out much hope for the next while, unless there's change, not just change, but radical change. And radical change means letting everybody in their positions at Cricket South Africa re-apply for their positions."
When probed on whether getting ex-players involved would help solve the problem, Symcox responded: "I think the narrative will change... to be (all) about winning."
He also has doubts whether Cricket South Africa's quota system - which requires all franchise teams to field at least six players of colour in their starting XIs (with at least three black Africans among that) - was the right way to go.
"I mean the quota system is long gone, really… there's enough players (of colour) coming through."