The bombshell of AB de Villiers couldn’t come at a worse time for Cricket South Africa … but it’s a mess of their own making, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
A master of your own demise. That’s the phrase that I would direct at the suits at CSA’s headquarters.
The World Cup campaign has been an unmitigated disaster. Taking injured players – yes, plural is correct – only to have one fly home with another on the physio table has handcuffed Faf du Plessis’ options on the field. He said as much after batting first against India.
The captain hasn’t been helped by the long-standing ineffectiveness of the batting (Dale Benkenstein) and fielding coach (Justin Ontong) with the Proteas now established as a mid-strength unit in the field. A far cry from the standards they once set.
The head coach doubles up as the bowling coach and to hear him question his bowlers not sticking to the pre-match plans should scream concern over who is actually running the show. If anyone at all.
Ottis Gibson’s relentless desire to have the seamers bang it in short against sub-continent teams has already backfired once. Remember losing to Sri Lanka on home wickets? Now, they’ve headed to England and are banging their heads against the wall with the same thoughtless plans.
If there’s a vision in this team’s play, would someone alert us to it?
The form of Hashim Amla overshadowed the squad announcement and the inability of JP Duminy to be a bit-part player with either bat or ball has most fans tearing their hair out. Then add David Miller – even before dropping Rohit Sharma with 35 needed off 40 balls – and his uncanny ability to get in and get out when it matters most.
This team was always going to hinge on the form of Quinton de Kock and Du Plessis. Makes sense then to bat first under extremely conducive bowling conditions.
The Proteas’ hierarchy didn’t know their best XI for months ahead of this tournament. A bold move to take the unconventional route of planning to fail. Every other nation builds on four-year cycles with this trophy in mind. Except the South Africans it would seem.
But it didn’t have to be like this. Not at all.
Sure, injuries do happen and players slip from form but there’s little sign of any player management system in play. There’s no wonder Kagiso Rabada looked off his best in the first two games. He might also be shattered after his herculean effort against India when he dragged his side into the contest.
Beyond the pathetic showing in England there is also the matter of SACA taking CSA to court.
With a number of other issues lingering, the AB bombshell was dropped.
Reports can be a little-one sided. Fans/observers/critics will have to assess for themselves if they believe AB, widely regarded as the best player of his generation, phoned up his old-school pal, Faf, 24 hours before the team was announced?
Whispers suggest the pair sat down during the IPL and the ‘request’ was made. This is long before the reported 24 hours.
Then came Zondi, throwing captain and coach under the bus by saying they only told him on the day the World Cup squad was announced. It is possible that Faf and Ottis took the decision to reject De Villiers’ plea and as a courtesy told the convenor at what they thought is an appropriate time. Again, how likely is the sequence of events? Surely, days and weeks would have passed as the pair wrestled with decision?
Let’s for a second, forget about timelines. And consider AB’s request. Let’s also, choose to believe the decision was weeks ahead of the squad announcement.
Under those circumstances, would you not want De Villiers – clearly fit and able – in the squad? Or would you prefer to ‘stay true to moral and principles’ as Zondi put it?
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t choose to have the moral high ground one day and then take the low road the next. It’s a sentiment that applies to CSA and AB.
How they didn’t come to some sort of compromise is beyond me. But then again, they seem to be suckers for pain. This situation was avoidable had the truth come out a year ago. Now it’s fuel on the fire and we’ve got front row seats to watch it burn.