Opinionista Chris Nenzani 10 August 2016

Something huge to celebrate for development in cricket

How much better off would South African cricket be if we could bring a whole generation of cricketers of the talent of Kagiso Rabada and Temba Bavuma through our talent development pipeline and not just these two Black African diamonds?

It is, of course, an unquantifiable question, but one that we need to keep in the forefront of our collective minds as we attempt, one day – unfortunately still quite a long way off – to achieve our dual vision of making cricket accessible to all and make our country a nation of winners.

Both Rabada and Bavuma are products of the private school system and this underlines the problem that not only cricket but all of our sporting codes and the national government face – that there are only about 4,000 schools in this country out of a total of more than 26,000 that have adequate playing facilities, not to mention the coaching and mentoring expertise, needed to turn out a first-class cricketer.

That is why I have been so encouraged by the recent tripartite initiative we have launched with two government departments – Sport and Recreation South Africa and the Department of Basic Education – to do what we can with our limited resources to improve the situation, specifically in our townships and rural areas. To this we have allied the community hubs and Regional Performance Centres that are already having an impact on these same communities.

The proof of this pudding can be seen in the 123 youngsters from the various hubs and Regional Performance Centres who represented their provinces at the various national age group tournaments at the end of last year. This really is something huge to celebrate, the fruits of which we will be enjoying in the years ahead.

There is one other statistic that I would like to put on the table. When Temba Bavuma was approaching the climax of that historic century he scored at PPC Newlands earlier this year, and when Kagiso Rabada was running through the England batting line-up at SuperSport Park for the second best Test match bowling figures of all time for South Africa – the best figures significantly belong to Makhaya Ntini – SABC’s television viewership topped 10-million on both occasions for a notable first for South African cricket.

Any organisation that does not grow its support base and does not remain relevant to the communities that it serves is doomed to failure. Transformation is a strategic imperative without which we cannot fulfil the mission we were given when cricket became unified 25 years ago.

Transformation is not just about playing and administrative numbers. It covers the whole way in which our organisation is run.

There are two specific areas that I would like to highlight. One is the transformation of our governing model that saw for the first time a board elected with a strong independent component back in 2012. We effectively now have three tiers of governance with a members’ council as the highest decision-making body that appoints and delegates authority to the board, which sets the general policy. The policy is then executed by the chief executive and his staff.

The other area is the operational model that has been developed to ensure the sustainability of all of our operations at professional and domestic level. It has been enthusiastically embraced by all our affiliate and associate members and has enabled us to free up finances for the areas where they are most desperately needed.

When one considers the positive impact transformation has had on every area of our business there is no doubt that we are on the right track to play our part in creating the South Africa we have always wanted ever since the unification of our game into one democratic and non-racial structure 25 years ago. DM

Chris Nenzani is President of Cricket South Africa.

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