SA must resist India 'blackmail'

2013-03-05 12:16
Norman Arendse (Gallo)
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 on Tuesday that they “had heard rumours that the tour was in jeopardy if Lorgat (is) appointed”.

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 “Friendship Tour”.

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 country.

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 interim.

So some deft diplomacy may be required to safeguard the tour.

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 position.

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 the family?

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 appointment ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    csa  |  norman arendse  |  cricket

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