Cape Town - South Africa’s stirring success in wrapping up the Test cricket series in Australia, with one contest yet to play, was sidestepped by the SABC.
Enthusiasts who do not have access to SuperSport’s live television coverage have traditionally relied on Radio 2000 (FM) for ball-by-ball commentary when the Proteas play major series away from home; SABC television screens all home international fixtures in terms of a three-year deal struck with Cricket South Africa in late 2014.
The national broadcaster’s Radio 2000 channel has a stalwart group of commentators including Aslam Khota, Peter Kirsten, Natalie Germanos and Hussein Manack, who had hoped to give listeners coverage of the three-Test series Down Under, which the Proteas clinched by winning the second Test by an innings and 80 runs in Hobart earlier this week.
Sport24 understands they were left on tenterhooks ahead of the first Test in Perth, waiting in vain for a go-ahead for duty, but then given fresh hope they would be summoned to the microphone for the pivotal second encounter, as a renewed motivation - emphasising minimal costs potentially involved - was sent to senior management.
Again, though, nothing came of the bid to get a green light for coverage.
It has been a touch-and-go issue on previous occasions, often with a go-ahead provided at relatively short notice, but this time, according to a source, “the bosses dug their heels in”.
Financial reasons have been cited as at least one justification for the cricket radio silence in the series, with a figure of R2 million apparently bandied about - even though the commentators would have worked from Johannesburg and most are based in that city.
Mluleki Ntsabo and Colin Bryden are among the few “regulars” usually flown in from other centres.
When the three-year TV/radio deal with CSA was confirmed in 2014, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC’s then-chief operations officer, was quoted as saying: “Being a public service broadcaster, we are cognisant of the fact that cricket, which is a national sport, is followed and loved by millions of South Africans.
“This broadcast deal with Cricket South Africa … demonstrates our commitment to showing sports of national importance, and we believe through this three-year deal, the SABC will be playing its role in making the sport accessible to every South African citizen through our radio and television platforms.”
Statistics have shown that more than seven million people actively follow cricket within South Africa. Of these, fewer than two million have access to DStv Premium, where the majority of cricket is broadcast live.
The Proteas are also beating all comers at present with a significantly more representative, multi-cultural team than evidenced in past years.
*Sport24 has sought comment on the lack of radio coverage of the Australia-South Africa series from SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing