Cape Town - Key excerpts from Proteas motivator Mike Horn’s seemingly illuminating interview over the selection controversy for the World Cup semi-final do little to confirm he was “quoted out of context”.
They may only deepen any suspicion that Cricket South Africa has been involved in a cover-up bid or, at least, damage-limiting crusade in the last few days.
Horn initially appeared to give a thumbs-up - amidst a sea of official denials and protests - to weeks of speculation that there was late political interference in the makeup of the South African XI to play the crunch fixture against New Zealand, with a less than fully fit Vernon Philander drafted in ahead of the in-form Kyle Abbott.
He had been interviewed at the Laureus Awards in Shanghai by two South African sports scribes present, Kevin McCallum of Independent Newspapers and EWN Sport’s Jean Smyth.
But then Horn subsequently added to the climate of confusion and intrigue by suggesting that he was quoted out of context.
On Monday, however, www.ewn.co.za ran a full transcript in print, insisting it was “verbatim as in the recorded (audio) interview”.
In the transcript Horn is quoted as saying: “So what happened was: okay, the team, um, the team was the team that played and we’re not going into any ... any ... any politics because it ... it ... it had a role to play.
“And I had to do a little bit of a talk to the guys, you know after the team was selected and a little bit of energy was taken away from the quarterfinals where the right team could have played (corrects himself) ... were played, and, and my job was basically to say ‘listen guys, now that ... now we need to give just a little bit more than what we, than what we gave before.
“’Now we need to fill gaps, now we have to make the difference with ... with less but give more, in a way’.”
In a lengthy statement on the issue on Sunday, CSA, among other things, confirmed that “transformation guidelines require the (selection) panel to consider, on merit, the selection of at least four players of colour in the starting XI”.
Had Abbott played instead of Philander, the Proteas XI would have included only three players of colour.
CSA also pronounced allegations in “various media” of political meddling in the XI as “unfounded and mischievous”.
They insisted Philander “was declared fit and available for selection by the medical team ... direct inquiry with him by the coach (Russell Domingo) confirmed his readiness to play”.
Nevertheless, when the all-rounder later reported to English county side Nottinghamshire for a short-term stint, he was quoted in a local newspaper, The Nottingham Post, as saying after his first net session at Trent Bridge: “I’m all good to go now ... I’ve done all the rehab to get to where I am today so yes, I’m ready to go again.”
His words appeared to imply he had only just returned to optimal fitness.