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CSA forced to postpone 3TC, days after its launch

CSA forced to postpone 3TC, days after its launch
Former Proteas captain AB de Villiers has been named as one of the three team captains for the 3TC competition. The others are Kagiso Rabada and Quinton de Kock. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Harish Tyagi)

Cricket South Africa can’t catch a break at the moment as they were forced to do an embarrassing backtrack at the weekend by postponing the 3TC competition because they didn’t have government clearance.

Last week, members of the media and other interested parties sat through one hour and 19 minutes of hype about a revolutionary three-team tournament that would serve as a symbol of the post-Covid-19 cricketing landscape. New team, new idea and a new 36-over format called 3 Team Cricket (3TC).

The idea was certainly revolutionary, and if truth be told, gimmicky. But in these sport-less times, the idea of any cricket featuring most of South Africa’s best players, even if it was French cricket in flip-flops, was good news. 

The added good news was that three new sponsors would back the three teams in 3TC, which for the beleaguered CSA was a much-needed demonstration that sponsors were ready to support the game. 

After losing an R80-million a year sponsorship from Standard Bank, the support of Sunfoil and the threat of Momentum walking away because of CSA’s boardroom turmoil at the end of 2019, the signs were promising. 

Cricket commentator Mark Nicholas, along with CSA director of cricket Graeme Smith and former banking tycoon Paul Harris, were a few who were behind the concept. Three teams playing each other at one venue – captained by Kagiso Rabada, AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock – for the Solidarity Cup sounded enticing. Funds raised from the games would go to the “Cricket Hardship Fund” to assist members of the cricketing fraternity impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

So far, so good. 27 June 2020 was announced as the date the one-off event would take place, which led to much head-scratching for those familiar with the pandemic. Level 3 restrictions allow for non-contact sporting codes to train, but any competitions needed direct government approval. The 3TC event was set to be played at SuperSport Park, but at the time of the announcement, there was still no formal indication from government that competitive sports events would be approved by that date. 

“Everything has been handled. It’s been cleared. The medical team is driving everything, and everything has been okayed,” Smith told the media on 17 June 2020 when quizzed about government’s regulations. 

On Saturday, 20 June, CSA was forced to announce a postponement after Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa expressed his unhappiness at a meeting on Friday. CSA was doing a presentation to the sports portfolio committee on sport, which gave Mthethwa a chance to publicly express his displeasure. 

“You did come to us and cricket has been working very well with us, but while your request for 27 June has been processed, it hasn’t been approved‚” Mthethwa said.  

CSA’s woes didn’t end there with the portfolio committee though. They were taken to task over a lack of transformation. It is a stick that politicians always beat sporting codes with, despite national government doing very little to improve sporting facilities and opportunities at school level.

“There are things we need to do and there are ongoing consultations with the Department of Health. People are being tested and we would want the details of that if there’s an indication of any player who has tested positive. We are still processing it, so it mustn’t be put as if it is approved because it will pass here if it is approved.”  

CSA had no option but to backtrack and on Saturday released a short statement. “The operational teams behind the Solidarity match and event partners in collaboration with Cricket South Africa, 3TCricket and SuperSport met to consider the readiness to host the event on 27 June. Following this meeting, it has become clear that more work is needed in preparation, including approval. A new date will be announced in due course.” 

At this stage, it remains unclear if all the players will be available for the event at a later date. 

CSA’s woes didn’t end there with the portfolio committee though. They were taken to task over a lack of transformation. It is a stick that politicians always beat sporting codes with, despite national government doing very little to improve sporting facilities and opportunities at school level.

CSA president Chris Nenzani had to defend the organisation’s upper echelons after chief executive Thabang Moroe was suspended and replaced with Jacques Faul. Much of the Proteas coaching staff is white too, which Mthethwa challenged. 

“I felt insulted with your [Nenzani’s] intervention when you said you only take people on merit,” Mthethwa said. “When we talk of cricket and going to the heart and core‚ you look at the CEO‚ you look at the director of cricket and the coach; you’ll find the deputy being an African [black].

“You look at the batting specialist and you come and say to the nation that there’s nothing wrong and there’s no regression in transformation. I feel particularly insulted. It says that there’s a particular posture that has been taken that says Africans can be elsewhere in other areas that are not core ones. There’s no core area above the top five. It’s only one and that person is the deputy to the coach. I’m not going to be smiling at that kind of statement.” DM

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